Dismissed for raising a grievance - discrimination?

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Lookingforhelp

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Feb 20, 2015
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Hello, I would be really greatful some advice from fellow lawyers or anyone with some knowledge on employment laws please.

I initially started my role in the Coffee shop of a garden centre, but was quickly moved over the the Garden Centre after two shifts. After having worked there a few months, my mum then got a job at the coffee shop department where i had initially started. At 17 years old, i was never given a contract of my true hours or told in advance when i would be working, or when i would have a day off. My hours changed all the time and i never had a set pattern to follow - despite being in college at the time. During the summer i worked more or less full-time and often worked 14 day periods with no day off. The manager was often rude, would criticise continuously and lie to make you look silly. Although this bothered me, i did not take any action initially.

holiday entitlement:
My manager was incredibly vague on my holiday entitlement and due to my irregular hours gave me no help in working it out, and i was never notified to how much holiday i had accrued. She has done this to other staff - in order to make it difficult for them to figure out their holiday entitlement so she does not have to pay them for it. I was entitled to more than 4 days holiday, but as a result was unable to take anymore. Is a manager able to do this, and does untaken holiday not have to be paid?

She had then gone on to lie about having approved my holiday later on in the year (although i was told by my supervisor and other colleagues that she had told them verbally it had been approved). Note, my manager does not have much contact with employees and it is not her normal practice to tell staff, or write to staff or sign slips off.

She had them called my mum into the office, to say to her 'does your daughter even want to work here even more' after having taken my first ever day off sick in my year of working there - as i suffered from chronic daily migraines for the past few years.

The grievance letter:
As a result of the conversation my manager had rudely decided to involve my mum into - considering it was an issue surrounding me - and there was no need to bring my mum into it, i decided to hand in my notice. I stated in my notice my reason for leaving; that i was leaving as i was unhappy with the rude comments made by her and the victimisation of her staff and outright bullying. As set out in the contract, i told her i would give her 4 weeks working notice. As my mum would still be working there, she handed our manager a grievance letter, informing her that she felt bullied at work and said that she hoped the letter would open up dialogue between the two of them and that it could be resolved formally.

Two weeks into my notice, i am left a letter on my work desk (not handed to me personally) which explains that, that day was to be my last working day and she would pay me up until this day. She had multiple opportunities to give me this letter, but gave it to me on my last day so i was left with no notice. She had therefore breached her contract - as she was refusing to pay me 'payment in lieu.' It was also wrongful dismissal. I wrote her a letter after having left, informing her of this breach - which she then offered to pay me for the rest of my notice.

However, since my second letter and my mum raising her grievance - the manager ignored her and victimised her further - with no mention of the letter for three weeks, despite my mum taking all steps to resolve things correctly between the two of them. My mum was then called into the office, and sacked on the spot as the manger told her she was unhappy with the grievance letter she had been sent. There was no attempt to discuss the written letter - she was simply sacked. Since she has only been working there for less than a year, my mum is unable to claim constructive dismissal (as she has hired someone to immediately fill her position) or unfair dismissal. Is she able to say that she has been discriminated against for asserting her employment rights?

Health and safety:
We believe that our manager had sacked my mum partly because she knew that she would whistle blow on her - after i had sent her a strongly worded legal letter regarding my wrongful dismissal. She brings electrical goods in from home that have been used for multiple years and sells them off as new along with various other serious health and safety breaches. But, since my mum did not at any point mention to Kim herself that what she was doing was wrong - she cannot strictly be a 'whistleblower'?

I am yet to receive the full pay i am entitled to, and have spoken to ACAS. I just wanted to know if going down the route of discrimination for raising a grievance is a route that we can follow to take her to an employment tribunal for. Or, whether this type of discrimination makes her exempt to the two year rule of constructive/unfair dismissal.

Any help or information would be greatly appreciated - i have cut down this story quite a bit, because it is ridiculous some of the stuff she has done and i would be here all day - but do please contact me if you want any further information.

Many thanks,

A daughter wanting help!
 

Newchodge

Business Member
Nov 8, 2012
16,221
4,584
Newcastle
ou can claim unfair dismissal without 2 years' service if the dismissal is as a result of asserting a statutory right. Forget constructive dismissal for your mother, she was dismissed, constructive dismissal is when you resign. You can take a claim over holiday pay and wrongful dismissal over the unpaid notice. Unless you have 2 years' service you can't claim unfair dismissal.
 
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matt.griffin

Free Member
Jan 15, 2012
12
1
Hi Lookingforhelp,

Based solely on the information contained in your post I would suggest you could bring a claim of unfair dismissal against your former employer.

There are a few issues here:
  • Firstly, your former employer cannot simply dismiss you A) without a good reason, and B) without following the company's formal disciplinary process.
  • Secondly, as you were employed for fewer than two years you have a statutory right to receive one week's notice, or payment in lieu of notice.
Also, from the information you have provided, I am inferring that you did not receive a statement of particulars outlining your normal working hours, or annual leave entitlement. This is also a statutory right and strengthens your case against your former employer.

My suggestion is to seek further advice from a local employment law specialist or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Regards,

Matt
 
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Newchodge

Business Member
Nov 8, 2012
16,221
4,584
Newcastle
Hi Lookingforhelp,

Based solely on the information contained in your post I would suggest you could bring a claim of unfair dismissal against your former employer.

There are a few issues here:
  • Firstly, your former employer cannot simply dismiss you A) without a good reason, and B) without following the company's formal disciplinary process.
  • Secondly, as you were employed for fewer than two years you have a statutory right to receive one week's notice, or payment in lieu of notice.
Also, from the information you have provided, I am inferring that you did not receive a statement of particulars outlining your normal working hours, or annual leave entitlement. This is also a statutory right and strengthens your case against your former employer.

My suggestion is to seek further advice from a local employment law specialist or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Regards,

Matt

Of course, with less than 2 years' employment, the OP cannot claim straightforward unfair dismissal unless she can show te dismissal was for one of the special reasons.
 
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As ever, in cases like this, what has happened is complex, and amounts to a combination of poor HR practise and a breakdown in any reasonable relationship between employer and employee.

To unravel all of this, you will need an employment specialist. It will take time, and cost money, as they will need to hear the employer's version of events and pick through the evidence.

The remedy, for you, may not be that huge, but it is probably worth going to see a specialist - one who can sit down and understand the detail of your case, before they glibbly assure you of a solution.

Personally, I would simply move on, as time and enery spent putting right this situation is potentially not going to reward you well. Sadly, these kind of rather vague employment practices are not uncommon in that sector.
 
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matt.griffin

Free Member
Jan 15, 2012
12
1
One could argue the dismissal was a result of the OP's resignation letter, in which she highlighted the unsatisfactory working conditions, which directly (and solely) contributed to her resignation. This is tantamount to a grievance letter, as per the EAT's ruling in Shergold v Fieldway Medical Centre. As such, the OP would be able to bring a claim of unfair dismissal.

As the OP was in the process of resigning, as a result of the unsatisfactory working conditions, and having followed the contractual procedure (i.e. in terms of notice), I would say the OP may even be able to bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal.

Failing all of the above, as the OP's former employer failed to follow the minimum disciplinary/dismissal procedure, and failed to satisfy the requirements of the Employment Rights Act, the OP could bring a claim of wrongful dismissal.

Regards,

Matt
 
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The Byre

Legacy Full Member
Aug 13, 2013
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Personally, I would simply move on, as time and enery spent putting right this situation is potentially not going to reward you well. Sadly, these kind of rather vague employment practices are not uncommon in that sector.

The number of employers who think that they have some sort of right to push people round is truly amazing. If he acts like that, he won't be an employer for long, at least, not of good people.
 
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Newchodge

Business Member
Nov 8, 2012
16,221
4,584
Newcastle
One could argue the dismissal was a result of the OP's resignation letter, in which she highlighted the unsatisfactory working conditions, which directly (and solely) contributed to her resignation. This is tantamount to a grievance letter, as per the EAT's ruling in Shergold v Fieldway Medical Centre. As such, the OP would be able to bring a claim of unfair dismissal.


Matt

Without 2 years' employment? On what basis?
 
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matt.griffin

Free Member
Jan 15, 2012
12
1
Hi Cyndy,

Perhaps I shouldn't have been so assured with my previous post; however, in my opinion the OP has effectively raised a grievance in relation to what can be described as unhealthy work practises, i.e. workplace bullying (psychological violence as some have described it), and which falls short of the employer's duty to safeguard employees' health, safety and welfare at work.

Therefore, if it can be demonstrated that the dismissal was a result of the grievance letter, the dismissal might be automatically unfair because of a health and safety reason.

It's a tall order I realise, and you may disagree and think I'm grasping at straws, which is of course fine. It just infuriates me when an employer is a bully and is essentially allowed to get away with it.

Having said that, I am aware that a constructive unfair dismissal, and/or wrongful dismissal claims(s) would be easier to pursue in this case.

Regards,

Matt
 
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carl.atkinson

Free Member
Jul 14, 2014
184
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56
Manchester & London
Hi Cyndy,

Perhaps I shouldn't have been so assured with my previous post; however, in my opinion the OP has effectively raised a grievance in relation to what can be described as unhealthy work practises, i.e. workplace bullying (psychological violence as some have described it), and which falls short of the employer's duty to safeguard employees' health, safety and welfare at work.

Therefore, if it can be demonstrated that the dismissal was a result of the grievance letter, the dismissal might be automatically unfair because of a health and safety reason.

It's a tall order I realise, and you may disagree and think I'm grasping at straws, which is of course fine. It just infuriates me when an employer is a bully and is essentially allowed to get away with it.

Having said that, I am aware that a constructive unfair dismissal, and/or wrongful dismissal claims(s) would be easier to pursue in this case.

Regards,

Matt

I think that when you offer people your advice on technical legal procedure you should be confident that what you are saying is correct. This type of law school academic argument would go nowhere in the real world Matt. An allegation of unfair dismissal without qualifying service may not be accepted by the Tribunal to start the claim and would almost certainly be subject to a pre-hearing review to strike it out. If the claim was struck out there could be a danger that the Claimant could be ordered to pay some/all of the Respondent's legal costs of the application.
 
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matt.griffin

Free Member
Jan 15, 2012
12
1
Hi Carl,

Thank you for your comment, which I have taken on board; however, I stand by my comments. As I said, I am aware an unfair dismissal claim is a tall order, and although my argument might not be accepted by an ET, and therefore is not terribly practical advice, I don't think my argument is incorrect.

Regardless, this isn't the real world and I would hope the OP seeks out proper direct legal advice, as per the disclaimer.

Regards,

Matt
 
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Failing all of the above, as the OP's former employer failed to follow the minimum disciplinary/dismissal procedure, and failed to satisfy the requirements of the Employment Rights Act, the OP could bring a claim of wrongful dismissal.


Wrongful dismissal is not a claim provided by the Employment Rights Act, and there is no “minimum disciplinary/dismissal procedure”, so I have no idea what this even meant.


Hi Carl,


Thank you for your comment, which I have taken on board; however, I stand by my comments.


Doesn’t appear that you have, Matt.

Regardless, this isn't the real world and I would hope the OP seeks out proper direct legal advice, as per the disclaimer.


Wow, this isn’t the real world, these aren’t real cases? That’s new to me! I’ve known people to act based on the advice on these forums, and very large sums of money have changed hands based on it. This is the real world Matt, real cases, real enquiries, and as Carl said, you need to be confident in what you say, or at the very least, accept when you made a mistake.


Karl Limpert
 
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matt.griffin

Free Member
Jan 15, 2012
12
1
Karl,

My reference to the ERA was because the OP had not received a written statement of particulars detailing the hours worked, annual leave entitlement etc. My reference to wrongful dismissal was because the employer had not given the proper notice, or followed the ACAS guidelines, which employers are advised to follow regardless of an employee's length of service.

No, this is not the real world, it's the virtual world, and I think people who act solely on advice given here are taking risks, hence the disclaimer at the top of the forum advising people to seek direct legal advice (in the real world).

Again, I don't believe I made a mistake, other than using the word 'assured' instead of 'insistent', as you seem to be under the impression I'm not confident in what I said. As I did say, the advice might not have been terribly practical but if an employee is dismissed after raising a grievance related to health and safety (in this case related to bullying) then I think there is an argument for unfair dismissal.

Carl and you clearly have considerably more experience than me, and you may think my argument is impractical based on that experience. As such, I am more than happy to receive criticism, provided it's constructive.

Regards,

Matt
 
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ethical PR

Free Member
Apr 20, 2009
7,486
1,645
London
Matt - it would be helpful to qualify your advice by adding a signature - are you a qualified employment lawyer or HR specialist?

If not and you don't have a signature then do tell people you are a lay person so they understand you aren't providing advice based on professional expertise.
 
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