Success in the Employment Tribunal in an Unfair Dismissal and Wrongful Dismissal claim
Ronald Fletcher Baker's Employment Team recently achieved a resounding victory on behalf of a client who had suffered unfair and wrongful dismissal. Not only did they secure a favourable outcome, but they also obtained a substantial compensation package exceeding £50,000. Let's delve into the captivating details of this case and explore the journey that led to this outcome!
The Claimant's Story: A Dedicated Employee's Struggle
Our client, a diligent Full Time Bus Operations Manager, commenced his employment with the Respondent on August 21, 2017. Sadly, his tenure was abruptly terminated on August 5, 2021, citing gross misconduct as the grounds for dismissal. However, there were compelling reasons to believe that our client's dismissal was unfair.
A Conspiracy Unveiled: Meetings, Manipulation, and Allegations
Prior to his dismissal, the Claimant was summoned to multiple meetings from February 2021 to July 2021. During this period, he grew suspicious that the Respondent was actively seeking ways to remove him from the company. His apprehensions were further fuelled by the Respondent's alleged encouragement of staff members to report any issues they had with him. In a chilling encounter, the Chief Executive Officer made a veiled threat, stating ‘he would go back to ‘last year’ to find something on him’.
A Questionable Investigation: A Meeting and a Hearing
On July 21, 2021, the Claimant attended an investigation meeting regarding seven allegations of misconduct. Interestingly, this meeting was conducted by none other than the CEO himself. Subsequently, on August 2, 2021, the Claimant was invited to a disciplinary hearing concerning several allegations. Unsurprisingly, the Respondent placed significant emphasis on two allegations of gross misconduct.
The Allegations: A Closer Look
1. He had asked the company cleaner, to strip his clothes off in the office and that he repeatedly taunted/goaded the company cleaner to take his clothes off and lie on the desk while playing "stripper" music.
2. On 13 January 2021 he posted inappropriate postings of videos onto the company control phone that had no relevance to work.
An Unbalanced Hearing: Denial and Unanswered Questions
During the disciplinary hearing, the CEO relentlessly focused on the first allegation, disregarding the other alleged incidents from the investigation meeting. When the Claimant inquired about these incidents, he was bluntly informed that they were irrelevant, as the Respondent had ‘enough to get rid of him’.
Challenging the Claims: Inconsistencies and Counter-statements
The first allegation presented a significant flaw—the witness did not report the incident until July 2021, a full five months after it was alleged to have occurred, and only reported it when asked by the directors about any incidents or issues regarding the Claimant. Additionally, video footage clearly showed the company cleaner dancing happily in the office and removing his cardigan, contrary to the alleged taunting or goading by the Claimant. In fact, the incident described by the Respondent was merely playful banter between old friends, which took place in December 2020.
A Dubious Statement: The Cleaner's Testimony
The Respondent heavily relied on a statement from the company cleaner, accusing the Claimant of goading him to undress and dance. However, it came to light that the CEO had a telephone conversation with the cleaner on July 23, 2021, without providing him with a witness statement to confirm its accuracy.
A Hasty Dismissal: Abrupt and Unfair
In light of the two allegations, the Claimant was summarily dismissed. This decision arrived just as he was about to embark on a two-week annual leave, with the dismissal letter awaiting him upon his return on August 18, 2021. The letter granted him a mere two days to appeal his dismissal, effectively limiting his ability to present a defence.
Unravelling the Truth: A Friend's Testimony
Around August 23, 2021, the Claimant shared the statement relied upon by the Respondent with the company cleaner, who promptly disputed its accuracy. The cleaner confirmed that the Claimant never asked him to undress, remove clothes, or lie on a desk. Shockingly, the CEO's version of events was entirely false. Subsequently, on September 10, 2021, the cleaner provided a statement reaffirming the Claimant's innocence.
A Denied Appeal: Unfair Treatment Continues
Despite submitting an appeal on September 10, 2021, the Claimant received a response from the Respondent on September 13, 2021, stating that the deadline had passed, rendering his appeal inadmissible. The Respondent failed to consider the reasons for the late submission, denying the Claimant an opportunity to present his case.
Legal Battle: Seeking Justice in the Employment Tribunal
Feeling betrayed and wronged, the Claimant took his fight to the Employment Tribunal (ET), seeking redress for unfair dismissal. He firmly believed that the Respondent lacked a genuine and honest belief in the alleged gross misconduct acts. Additionally, he argued that he was wrongfully dismissed, as the Respondent failed to adhere to the contractual notice requirements.
A Surprising Concession: A Twist of Fate
In an unforeseen turn of events, the Respondent conceded liability on the first day of the hearing. This admission came only after the Claimant successfully opposed the Respondent's strike-out applications, which the Employment Tribunal deemed baseless.
Triumph at the Remedy Hearing: Justice Served
During the Remedy Hearing, the Claimant was awarded a significant sum of £52,190.47. The Employment Tribunal recognised a breach of the ACAS Code of Conduct and awarded an additional 15% uplift in acknowledgment of the Respondent's misconduct. Notably, the Tribunal found no fault in the Claimant's behaviour regarding the allegations and concluded that the Respondent failed to demonstrate that a fair dismissal would have occurred even if proper procedures were followed. The Tribunal also acknowledged the Claimant's diligent efforts to mitigate his losses by actively seeking alternative employment.
A Victory for Justice
This remarkable case serves as a reminder that justice can prevail, even against formidable odds. The successful outcome not only provides a substantial compensation package for our client but also highlights the importance of rigorous investigations and fair treatment in the workplace. The Employment Tribunal's ruling serves as a beacon of hope for employees facing unfair dismissal, emphasising the need for employers to uphold their obligations and responsibilities.
Legal Representation: The Power of a Dedicated Team
Throughout this challenging journey, the Claimant received unwavering support from our exceptional legal team. Michael Michaeloudis, Tariro Nyoka, Sophie Georgiou, Elena Margetts, and Berin Karaaslan represented the Claimant, along with Paul Livingston from Outer Temple Chambers.
If you require assistance with employment law issues, our dedicated team is ready to support you.