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Falling out of favour for daring to complain about unfair treatment

Published: 

Wed 4 September, 2019

Grievance

It is not unusual for an employee to believe that management have favourites.

Sometimes it is fuelled by jealously or it can be paranoia, but sometimes there can be good reason to feel that way.

At the customer service centre where Victoria worked there had long been rumours that a colleague was a favourite of management, and received preferential treatment because she was related to a very well-known individual.

But this was the last thing on Victoria’s mind when she decided that she would apply for a vacant team leader role when it was advertised.

After all she was a long-serving employee, had been an outstanding performer and received commendations during her time with the company.

Victoria was shocked, however, when the position was not advertised, and it was announced during a meeting that the team leader role would be filled by her colleague, long seen as a management favourite.

When Victoria later questioned the appointment with her manager she was told there was nothing anyone could do as the decision was made by head office not to advertise the role.

Victoria felt aggrieved and she decided to submit a formal grievance. The grounds for the grievance were that she had been unfairly overlooked for the position and the appointment was unfair as it did not follow the normal company process.

The employer acknowledged receipt of Victoria’s grievance. The following week when Victoria was called in to her manager’s office, and there was a member of the HR team present, she fully expected to be informed of the arrangements to hear her grievance.

To her surprise Victoria was presented with a number of emails. The most recent of the messages - which were described as rude, unprofessional and bullying in nature - was sent three months earlier.

She was told a complaint had been received and the matter was being taken seriously. Victoria was moved to a different department rather than being suspended from work, in order so that an investigation could be conducted.

Victoria was outraged and insisted it was a witch-hunt simply because she had the temerity to question the appointment of the new team leader.

During the same meeting Victoria was asked a couple of questions about her grievance. She explained why she felt the appointment of the new team leader was unfair.

Two days later she received a letter inviting her to attend a disciplinary hearing to face an allegation of unprofessional and bullying behaviour. The evidence to support the allegation included the emails that Victoria was shown previously.

The letter also said that following the ‘grievance hearing’ Victoria’s grievance has been investigated and not upheld. She was not informed that she had the right to appeal.

Victoria contacted the Castle Associates Employee Support Centre for help. She was dismayed and said she had, had enough and had gone as far as writing a resignation letter.

She explained that she took the letter into work intending to hand it to her manager when she had a change of heart at the last minute. Victoria said she felt betrayed and was adamant that she could no longer work for the company.

Victoria enquired about her options in the circumstances. Our representative explained a settlement agreement to her.

Our representative contacted the employer and discussed Victoria’s grievance and the fact she was denied the right to appeal. Following those lengthy discussions the company agreed to postpone the disciplinary hearing in order to hear the grievance appeal.

At the grievance appeal hearing our representative explained the reasons Victoria felt aggrieved. When the discussion reached the point where the employer enquired how she wished the situation to be resolved, it initiated a conversation about a settlement agreement.

An agreement was reached and Victoria got her wish in being able to leave without being disciplined, and with a suitable tax free payment as part of the agreement.

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