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Bullying at work

Published: 

Wed 1 April, 2020

Bullying in the workplace

At a first glance Joshua may not resemble someone you would expect to complain about being bullied at work.

The insurance claims handler is over 6ft tall a former soldier and he played rugby to a decent standard.

He raised a formal grievance against a female colleague after her constant stream of offensive comments, aggressive verbal outbursts became too much.

He had spoken informally to his male manager about it on two occasions. Joshua was advised to ‘man up’ and just ignore his tormentor as ‘that is the way she is.’

Her behaviour included offensive comments about his appearance, life, family, quality of work and occasions where she had shouted and swore at him.

Joshua’s grievance was heard, investigated and rejected. His employer’s reaction to it really did add insult to injury.

He was invited to a disciplinary hearing when it was decided that his grievance was malicious and vexatious and amounted to bullying of his colleague.

Joshua insisted that he had not done anything wrong and that he raised a legitimate grievance, which the grievance investigation established was supported in part by workmates.

Joshua was suspended from work and told that he would be invited to attend a disciplinary hearing in due course.

He received the invite to the hearing the following week. The letter explained that as his grievance had not been upheld the company had concluded it was malicious.

Included with the letter was a copy of the company’s disciplinary policy and bullying and harassment policy. There were no witness statements or complaint from his colleague.

Joshua contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help. He met with our representative and discussed the case.

Joshua explained that he believed his complaint had not been taken seriously as a result of how he looked and because it was against a female colleague.

He said that when his grievance was submitted his colleague was not suspended in the same way he was, and he had to carry on working alongside her. He also said that he had not seen any evidence that she had ever complained about him.

Our representative felt the treatment of Joshua was extremely unfair. He submitted a grievance on Joshua’s behalf for sex discrimination and unfair treatment. Sex discrimination is illegal and it occurs when you are treated unfairly because of your gender.

In the grievance letter a request was made for the disciplinary process to be suspended in accordance with section 46 of the ACAS Code of Practice. This was because if the grievance was upheld it could have ramifications for the disciplinary process.

The company agreed that it would hear the grievance first and it quickly arranged a hearing. Prior to the hearing our representative spoke to Joshua about his desired outcome.

He explained that he was looking for a career change and wanted to leave as soon as possible even though he had financial commitments based on him being employed and had not secured alternative employment.

Our representative discussed a settlement agreement with Joshua, which he subsequently confirmed was his preferred option.

At the grievance hearing our representative said it was evident in the handling of Joshua’s complaint, initial reaction to it from management and managing of  the disciplinary action being taken against him that he had been subjected to sex discrimination and treated unfairly.

Our representative fully explained the reasons for this and provided the evidence to support the argument. He said as a result of the way Joshua had been treated he had lost trust and confidence in the company.

He initiated a discussion about a settlement agreement. This was discussed and further negotiations about the terms of it took place after the hearing before an agreement was later reached. 

It meant the disciplinary process was scrapped and the agreement included payment of a five-figure tax free lump sum and guarantee of a reference.

Joshua used the money to help to pay for a course to train to assist ex-soldiers suffering with PTSD, which he had wanted to do since leaving the Army.

 

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It was a very stressful time at work for me, where I was being victimised. I was absolutely devastated by the whole situation.

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From a very horrible 2 years of grievances with my work manager and work place of 10 years. I unfortunately was left at a dismissal hearing with no representation or Union member to help me show and explain my side of the issues involved.

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