Case Studies

Case Studies

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Working to fix a problem when you are not equipped for the job

Published 05 December 2018

It is often the case that employees get blamed for genuine mistakes and as a result end up facing a difficult fight to save their job.

As a gas service engineer for a housing association some parts of Nick’s working day were planned and he knew exactly what was expected of him.

At a disciplinary hearing he faced allegations of being rude and insulting to a resident, a failure to carry out his work in the allocated time and bringing the company into disrepute.

Nick was understandably fearful when he contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help. In the situation that he found himself he knew exactly where to turn for assistance.

Four years earlier one of our representatives supported Nick when he challenged the decision to select him for redundancy. In that case the argument that the selection criteria for redundancy was unfair proved successful.

Nick explained to our representative that believed that he ‘had a target on his back’ after he won his fight against that selection for redundancy. This had caused him to feel ill and he later had a long period off work after being diagnosed with work-related stress.

The complaint from the tenant was that a gas service appointment had been arranged and Nick turned up 40 minutes after the end of the stated four-hour time period for the appointment.

When Nick arrived he apologised for being late and because he was unable to do the job because he had no equipment. His colleagues later admitted removing his equipment bag from his van for a laugh.

The complainant said she was self-employed, took the day off work which cost her money and this was the second time in a week an appointment had been made and the job not carried out.

The first time an engineer did not turn up, so she was claiming reimbursement for loss of earnings. She alleged that Nick was rude, dismissive and insulting when she complained to him, and added that the company was unprofessional.

At the disciplinary hearing our representative explained that Nick accepted he was late arriving for the job. It was explained it was as a result of a traffic delay caused by a serious vehicle collision on a dual carriageway, and such unexpected delays can inevitably be a part of the job.

The hearing was told that Nick loaded and checked his van at the depot before briefly going back inside to get some paperwork, which is when colleagues took his bag.

Our representative asked the disciplinary hearing chair to check the CCTV footage, which would support Nick’s case. It was also said that Nick had considered raising a formal grievance having been the target of previous workplace pranks.

Nick acknowledged that he made a genuine mistake in not checking the van when he returned to it, but as he was gone less than 30 seconds he did not think it was necessary.  However, he had taken appropriate learning from what occurred.

The hearing heard how Nick categorically denied the woman’s claim that he was rude, dismissive and insulting. Our representative maintained that as there was no corroborative evidence to support either version of what took place, Nick should be given the benefit of the doubt. He also referred to Nick’s last appraisal, which said he treats customers with respect.

It was also argued that it was unfair to use the fact an engineer did not turn up for a previous appointment against Nick to support the allegation of bringing the company into disrepute.

Following the hearing Nick received a letter informing him that no action would be taken in relation to the allegations. He was issued with words of advice about checking equipment before a job.


“A reputation built on success”

For free 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. 0333 772 0611


A reputation built on success

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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