Unfair dismissal and discrimination
Ms D worked as a sales negotiator for five and a half months. She was required to provide a doctor’s note for every absence because of her pregnancy, but other staff were not required to do so for non-pregnancy related absences. Her privacy was invaded by a manager accessing her computer without her knowledge or consent for 90 minutes, and by taking screenshots of her personal emails and searches on her computer in relation to her pregnancy and miscarriage. She discovered and complained about this data protection breach and alleged pregnancy discrimination. The meeting held to discuss her grievance turned into a disciplinary meeting and previous incidents regarding her conduct were raised. She had not been given any formal warning regarding those incidents. Subsequently her employed was terminated. The tribunal upheld the claims for automatic unfair dismissal, maternity and pregnancy discrimination and victimisation.
Not being treated equally
B worked as a customer service agent in a large communications firm. She complained that she believed that she wasn’t being treated equally to other employees as she had not been provided with an updated contract of employment. She felt that the firm did not respond sufficiently well to complaints and made a further allegation that she was being discriminated against by the firm because of her race. The firm did not deal with this complaint and dismissed her a month after her complaint about discrimination, alleging that she had been performing poorly at work. B was surprised by this, as she had been given no notice of any poor performance, had not been given an opportunity to improve any alleged underperformance, and there was no capability process undertaken. She appealed against the dismissal but the firm failed to investigate.
Medical secretary for 26 years
Mrs J was a medical secretary for a busy dental practice. She suffered from a heart condition and arthritis and was 67 when she was dismissed after 26 years of employment. When an electronic patient record system was introduced, she was advised that her role changed to “patient pathway co-ordinator”. She was promised training on the new system, but this was never provided. She was told that she was being investigated for capability issues as she had not managed the waiting list properly. She was sent home on "special leave", although there was no provision in the employer’s policy to suspend for a capability matter. The investigation carried out by the employer was conducted as if it were a disciplinary rather than a capability matter. The partners took into account feedback from Mrs J's colleagues on her age and frailty and considered that she was stuck in "old secretarial ways". Mrs J raised a grievance but this was never fully dealt with by the employer. Mrs J was subsequently dismissed for capability and her appeal was ignored.
No plans to retire in the near future
P’s boss at a family owned paint manufacturing business became hostile and intimidating to him after he informed her that he had no plans to retire in the near future. She then orchestrated his dismissal for gross misconduct after he was found to have been “rude and insubordinate “ after refusing to collect the managing director’s dry cleaning, recruited a replacement to succeed him and ignored medical advice about his return to work after he went off sick with stress. P had worked for the company for 16 years and was 63 at the time of his dismissal.
Allegation of theft
O worked night shifts as a security officer and was dismissed by his employer without notice on the grounds of gross misconduct after more than 15 years of service following an allegation of theft. Lost property had been recorded and stored securely. A few days later the property had gone missing. CCTV appeared to show O taking the property, hiding the contents before later returning to the office and shredding some items. O was suspended and an investigation began. O was invited to a disciplinary hearing and provided with statements from various colleagues (including one who found the missing property) and stills taken from the CCTV footage. However, O was not provided with the footage itself nor any opportunity to view it. The hearing focussed on whether O was the person seen in the footage. O maintained that it was him in the footage, but that he did not take the wallet or shred paperwork. He was dismissed on the grounds of misconduct for theft. Whilst this was a potentially fair reason for dismissal a reasonable investigation would have sought to verify the claimant’s explanation for the actions seen on CCTV therefore the dismissal was unfair.