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Suspended from work after being accused of bullying

Published 17 January 2017

When Kevin was called to his manager’s office and accused of being a bully and suspended it was the start of a nightmare.

A couple of days earlier he had heated words with a colleague, but given the nature and banter in the workplace he did not give it a second thought.

Kevin said at this stage he felt bewildered, isolated and in limbo. He had worked for the company, a large national employer, for eight years.

He was not given full details of the allegation and felt constantly stressed, restless and agitated. Kevin tried to put on a brave face but family members noticed a significant change in his demeanour and behaviour.

The following week Kevin was notified to attend an investigation meeting. He thought that if he just explained what had happened and told the truth everything would be ok.

During the meeting he was asked very specific questions about the incident and informed of comments made by witnesses. Kevin admitted making the comments similar to those in the allegation, but explained that they were in keeping with the type of language and jokey insults between colleagues which he had often been on the receiving end of.

Nearly three weeks later he received a letter to attend a disciplinary hearing, which warned that if proven the single allegation could lead to his dismissal. Included with the letter were four statements from colleagues.

Employees have a statutory right to be accompanied to a disciplinary hearing. Kevin contacted Castle Associates at this stage. Our representative reviewed, assessed and discussed the case with Kevin in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation.

Our representative was able to point out to the employer that during the investigation meeting Kevin had informed the company of comments directed at him that were far worse than those he allegedly made, and that it had made no attempt to investigate them or take any action against the same colleague and therefore Kevin justifiably felt victimised.

Our representative was also able to highlight that the verbal exchange was no different to anything that normally took place in the workplace that management were aware of, witness statements were inconsistent and contradictory and that the company had failed to follow some of its own policies in dealing with such incidents.

Kevin was cleared of any wrongdoing.

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