There are occasions when you can clearly do the right thing but you are left questioning if it was really worth it.
Construction worker Dane knows that feeling only too well. He ended up being treated unfairly and threatened with dismissal after raising health and safety concerns.
Conscientious Dane, who had four years’ service, had long complained to his bosses about sub-standard materials being used and unsafe working practices. He was assured his concerns were being looked into.
During a bust-up with a colleague about his workmate’s failure to use a safety harness on a job, the two men had a blazing row and there was some pushing and shoving.
Dane immediately reported the matter to his manager, who once again reassured him it would be dealt with. Dane heard nothing else about it.
A week later Dane was called into his manager’s office and told a formal grievance alleging physical assault had been raised against him.
Dane vehemently denied the allegation. He reminded his manager that he informed him at the time that he had acted in self-defence.
The manager said Dane would usually be suspended from work but instead he was going to move him to another site until the matter was sorted out.
Furious Dane said the complaint was an excuse to get rid of him because of the concerns he highlighted, which the company was keen to brush under the carpet.
Dane said he had been looking for another job and if the company wanted him to leave it should just say so, but do it in the right way.
As he was leaving the office Dane said if he got sacked over the incident he would sue the company and go to the local newspaper.
The following day Dane called in work sick. Later the same afternoon a letter was hand delivered to his home address and it contained an invite to a disciplinary hearing at 9am the next day.
The allegations were that he had physically assaulted a colleague and made serious threats against the company. The letter said if proven the allegations could lead to Dane’s dismissal.
Dane called his manager and explained he was ill and unable to attend the disciplinary hearing. He was told that if he did not do so the meeting would go ahead in his absence.
Due to ill health Dane did not attend, the hearing went ahead and he was dismissed. He submitted an appeal letter and initiated the disciplinary appeals process.
Dane received a call from his boss two days after submitting the appeal. His manager said he would do Dane a favour and pay him his notice period and remove the dismissal from his record if he wrote and submitted a resignation letter.
The offer was rejected by Dane who said he was going to submit a grievance because his treatment was grossly unfair. The manager said it is company policy that it does not accept grievances from ex-employees.
By the time Dane contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help he had been given a date for his appeal hearing.
Prior to the hearing our representative took part in email and telephone correspondence with the employer. He requested information, evidence and policies, including the whistle-blowing policy, that would clearly help him to demonstrate the decision was unfair.
Dane did not want to return to work for the company. And our representative’s diligent work before the hearing appeared to have the desired effect.
The company initiated a conversation about a settlement agreement at the start of the appeal hearing.
Following that conversation there was ongoing discussions and negotiations in the following days before a settlement was eventually agreed.
It included payment to Dane of a tax free five-figure lump sum. He secured a new job the day after signing the agreement.
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