Wed 14 February, 2018
Having to deal with far worse than a nasty hangover after a night out.
An employee accused of a serious crime, arrested, questioned and cleared could be forgiven for thinking that is the end of the nightmare.
But for Andreas worse was still to come, because his employer had started its own disciplinary investigation - and decided he had a case to answer.
Andreas, an IT worker based in the South East, was arrested two weeks after a work night out. A female colleague accused him of slapping and pushing her when she rejected his sexual advances.
He was, arrested, interviewed under caution, freed on police bail and later informed by a detective no further action would be taken.
Andreas, who had continued to work as normal after the night out, was suspended from work by his line manager as soon as the allegation came to light.
The company carried out its own investigation and gathered statements from a number of employees.
Andreas was later invited to attend an investigation meeting. He believed being cleared by the police would be enough to prove his innocence.
He vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Andreas explained that he rejected his married colleague’s advances before she slapped him, verbally abused him and stormed out of his hotel room.
Andreas also informed the investigating officer that she had sent text messages to two colleagues verbally abusing him and questioning his sexuality for rejecting her. However, she had claimed he attacked her after she rejected his advances.
It took another four months before Andreas was finally informed that he was required to attend a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of physically assaulting a colleague.
He contacted the Castle Associates employee support centre for help.
In accordance with the ACAS Code the employer has to provide the employee with all of the evidence to support the allegations.
Upon reviewing the evidence pack our representative noted that the witness statements did not support the allegation and the accuser’s statements contained several inconsistencies and contradictions.
At the disciplinary hearing our representative argued that not only had the police cleared Andreas of any wrongdoing, but there was also a wealth of evidence to support his innocence.
This included two colleagues confirming they received a text message in which the female colleague confirmed Andreas had rejected her advances.
The woman had been interviewed three times during the company’s investigation and despite insisting Andreas assaulted her, the account of the alleged incident and what was said changed each time.
The witness statements also showed she made racist comments about Andreas’s Greek origin, threatened to destroy him and get him sent back to where he came from. It was pointed out to the employer that it had not taken any action in relation to the racist comments.
Prior to the hearing Andreas had also been given a copy of a Facebook message the woman had sent to a friend. In it she made it clear she had to stick to her story because her husband would leave her if he knew the truth. A copy of this message was also presented during the hearing.
Our representative argued it was clear Andreas had not done anything wrong and should be cleared immediately. The hearing chair said she would write to Andreas with an outcome within five days, but then asked for a break to consider a few things.
After a short break the hearing chair returned to inform Andreas the allegation had been dismissed. However, Andreas felt that due to the nature of the allegation and how he had been treated that he could not return to work for the company.
The employer acknowledged this and a discussion took place with Andreas and our representative in order to reach a settlement agreement, which was verbally agreed there and then.