How Christianne Silverwood, employment lawyer based in Brighton, successfully challenged a decision by a large company to unfairly dismiss their employee and negotiated a reference and settlement payment of over £13,000 on her behalf.
Robin had been employed for over 14 years when she was suspended, pending an investigation and disciplinary hearing. Until that point, she had been a valued employee, receiving regular promotions and positive feedback in her appraisals.
A client had complained about Robin, accusing her of a health and safety breach. Although other members of staff were involved in the same incident, the client did not complain about all of the involved employees. Consequently, the company only took disciplinary proceedings against her. The same client was known to be vague in his instructions and aggressive in the way that he communicated. Robin had raised these concerns with her manager on previous occasions.
The client produced CCTV footage to the Company to support his accusations against Robin. However, this evidence was not disclosed to Robin until well after her dismissal. At the time of her suspension but before any disciplinary hearing or decision was made, Robin’s manager told her he was happy to give her a reference to support her as she looked for another job.
At the disciplinary hearing, Robin was found to be guilty of gross misconduct on health and safety grounds and she was summarily dismissed.
Christianne advised Robin that, because she had been employed for more than 2 years, her employer could only dismiss her if they had a fair reason to do so. Additionally, even if there was a fair reason to terminate her employment, they were required to follow a fair process in keeping with the Acas Code.
After taking instructions and looking at the evidence, including the CCTV footage, Robin was advised that her dismissal was unlikely to be considered fair by an Employment Tribunal. Further, the company had not followed a fair process.
We helped Robin draft an appeal against the decision to dismiss her on the following grounds:
Within a short period of time, Robin found a new and better paid job.
She appealed this decision but their decision to dismiss her without notice pay was upheld.
We advised Robin that the total costs of bringing her claim to trial, from drafting the Employment Tribunal claim up to and including a one day hearing, would be in the region of £5400 (excluding VAT).
With Robin’s consent, after entering her case for Acas Early Conciliation, we lodged her Employment Tribunal claim, complaining of Unfair and Wrongful Dismissal and for breach of contract by not paying her for her notice period or accrued holiday.
After negotiations with our firm, the employer decided to settle before Robin’s claim reached an Employment Tribunal. They agreed to pay Robin £13,100 and provided an agreed reference for future employers. This sum was equal to the compensatory award that Robin would have received had she been successful at a full Employment Tribunal hearing. It also meant that the matter was resolved far more quickly and without the stresses and risks associated with litigation.
Robin’s total costs, from drafting the claim to settlement, were £1500 (excluding VAT) – nearly £4000 less than initially quoted.