Shirley, a community worker, and her boyfriend, another community worker in the same team, had been suspended pending an investigation into a number of allegations. The allegations concerned police interventions in Shirley’s private life.
Shirley’s boyfriend was suspended for a week and then allowed to return to work. Shirley, meanwhile, remained suspended and was invited to a disciplinary meeting months later, which she was advised could result in her dismissal.
Ahead of the meeting, Shirley’s local authority employer outlined the allegations against her. These concerned the Police being called in relation to allegations made by her alcoholic mother and when a neighbour suspected Shirley was the victim of domestic violence. There had also been an incident in the staff room when Shirley became upset after her boyfriend broke something of hers of sentimental value.
Shirley’s employer alleged these incidents had led to a breakdown in trust and confidence which had bought the employer into disrepute.
Fiona Martin, an employment law solicitor at Martin Searle Solicitors in Brighton, prepared a formal grievance on Shirley’s behalf. The basis for the grievance was sex discrimination and unfair treatment as the perpetrator of the violence had escaped disciplinary action while Shirley was penalised for actions over which she had no control.
Ahead of the disciplinary/dismissal hearing, Fiona negotiated with the in-house solicitor an offer of £20,000 together with an agreed reference. Within a week of her case being settled, Shirley secured work. Without the agreed reference this would not have been possible.