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Case Studies

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Wrongly accused by Manager

Published 29 November 2017

Praying for a miracle when wrongly accused of gross negligence

When a manager makes a mistake resulting in you facing disciplinary action the battle to clear your name can feel like an impossible one to win.

For anyone working in the caring profession to be accused of failing to look after the vulnerable is as bad as it can get.

When this happened to experienced support worker Diane she was understandably distraught.

Our representatives at Castle Associates are used to dealing with cases where employees wrongly face serious disciplinary allegations. Our representatives are skilled and experienced in preparing and presenting an employee’s case to ensure that natural justice prevails.

Diane worked at a privately run hospital in the South of England, where management were tipped off staff were sleeping on duty during the night shift. Diane, who is a devout Christian and Sunday school teacher, was working the night shift when a manager carried out an unannounced visit.

During her break Diane regularly prayed. When her manager walked in and saw her seated, head bowed, he immediately assumed she was asleep. Despite Diane’s desperate attempts to explain herself, he refused to listen and insisted she was sleeping on duty. This was witnessed by another member of staff.

Diane was informed that she was suspended and was worried as she did not know what this meant. She was later invited to a disciplinary hearing.

The only evidence to support the allegation was a statement from the manager. The notification to attend the disciplinary hearing also confirmed that the manager making the allegation was also going to chair the hearing.

Diane contacted Castle Associates for help. Our representative identified a number of issues that needed to be raised with the employer prior to the hearing. The main complaint was about the manager chairing the hearing, which could result in Diane’s dismissal.

The company insisted the manager was the appropriate person to hear the case. Following email correspondence our representative then raised a formal grievance on behalf of Diane. It was on the basis that in the manager being the only witness and hearing the case it was a breach of the ACAS Code of Practice. The company had the resources to appoint an independent chair who was not involved in the case.

After receiving the grievance letter, and without holding a grievance hearing, the company relented and appointed a new chair, but said the manager would attend the hearing to present his findings.

At the hearing our representative presented evidence to demonstrate that Diane was a devout Christian and heavily involved in her local church; she was on her break at the time and praying; and that there is a colleague who can confirm this and that Diane was denied an opportunity to explain herself at the time.

Our representative also argued the company did not provide an area for employees to observe their religion and in disciplining Diane for doing so it could be considered religious discrimination. 

During the hearing our representative was also able to use the manager’s statement and answers to questions put to him during the meeting to support Diane’s case. The manager confirmed that when he walked into the room where he approached Diane straightaway, tapped her on the shoulder and she responded immediately. He also admitted he did not give her an opportunity to explain herself.

Our representative argued that the evidence clearly supported Diane’s case that she was praying and had been denied a reasonable opportunity to explain herself.

Diane was cleared of any wrongdoing but she was so upset by the ordeal she had been through that she no longer wished to work for the company. Our representative discussed this with the company and was able to negotiate a settlement agreement for Diane to leave.

Diane was able to use the reference she received as part of the settlement agreement to get a job at another hospital where she has since started training to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse.

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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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