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When patience proved to be more than a virtue in a disciplinary case

Published 30 November 2022

‘Bob the builder’ an allegation of demanding money with menaces and a missed drugs test was a mix that made for one of our most interesting disciplinary cases.

Construction worker Bobby, also known as Bob, landed himself in serious trouble after becoming frustrated with a workmate who failed to stick to the agreed terms to repay a loan he had given him.

It resulted in Bobby giving his colleague an ultimatum of repay the money ‘or face the consequences.’

It triggered a sequence of events, which left Bobby in a desperate fight to save his job.

It was a battle he won with support from our representative, who Bobby first spoke to after contacting the Employee Support Centre.

Relieved Bobby was eventually cleared of an allegation of bullying and intimidation in demanding money with menaces.

The sequence of events that led to the allegation was detailed at Bobby’s disciplinary hearing.

He had borrowed a colleague, who was also a good friend outside of work, some money.

Luckily, Bobby had in writing the agreed loan amount and one-year repayment agreement.

The colleague made just two repayments, and then stopped.

Bobby then showed remarkable patience in trying to get his money back.

Over the course of a year, he was met with repeated excuses and false promises it would all be sorted out.

When Bobby started to experience money problems he became persistent in asking for his money back, both verbally and via text messages.

Nothing was repaid and Bobby was always met with more excuses and repeated broken promises.

He admitted he finally had enough when he saw pictures on social media of a lavish party his colleague had thrown for his girlfriend.

It was the final straw and, 18 months after receiving the last repayment of the loan, Bobby had enough.

He sent a text message to his workmate that asked for full repayment within a month. The message added that if it did not happen he would face the consequences.

The following day random drug tests were carried out in work,

The employee who owed Bobby money left work before his drugs test, despite being ordered to stay.  He was later suspended from work for failing to take the test.

During the course of his subsequent disciplinary investigation he blamed Bobby for his actions.

He said he feared Bobby was going to beat him up and that he was petrified after receiving the text message. He claimed it is why he had to flea work and could not take the test.

The employee was later dismissed, but what he said was treated by management as a grievance against Bobby. He had provided selected text messages to support his allegation against Bobby.

At Bobby’s disciplinary hearing our representative presented a full exchange of text messages between the pair.

He said the reliance on just selected messages sent by Bobby was a flaw in an unfair investigation, as they did not provide the full picture.

Our representative highlighted messages that showed the countless excuses and lies Bobby was told while acting reasonably to recoup his money.

Evidence of the ‘loan agreement’ was also presented along with details of Bobby’s own financial difficulties to show why he needed the money back.

It was asserted that the evidence supports Bobby showed extraordinary tolerance in the circumstances.

Our representative pointed out the text message at the heart of the case did not contain a specific threat.

He said Bobby’s intention cannot reasonably be considered a threat of violence as what he meant was he would start legal proceedings if the money was not repaid.

The hearing was told by our representative it was a reasonable course of action to consider and take in the circumstances.

In support of this it was explained that Bobby had no history of violence, harassment or intimidation  during the nine years he had worked for the company.

The disciplinary hearing chair asked Bobby a number of questions in relation to the allegation before the disciplinary hearing was adjourned.

After a break of just over 30 minutes he was cleared of the allegation.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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