Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Another "kitchen sink dismissal" hearing...

This what I call a dismissal meeting where the employer cannot hide it's feelings, and throws everything it can think of at the person they want shot of.

I'm dealing with one, and it's been extremely time consuming - with over 100 pages of A4 to take in before I got actively involved.

In this case there's five disciplinary charges, each very serious.  If done properly, any four of these could potentially be a "safe" dismissal.

Charge 1:

Bullying, backed up by three witness statements.  The statements just happened to surface about a week before the disciplinary letter was sent.  We now have a statement from one of the three admitting that they were forced into making the statement!  This matter is now subject to grievance, so the employer couldn't talk about it at the dismissal hearing.

Charge 2:

Not content with "gross misconduct", the employer has also tried "dismissal on grounds of capability". They say the objectives set via performance management have neither been met, or attempted, thus making this charge "gross misconduct" and "capability" -  a typical kitchen sink line to take!

A grievance has been raised, as my member has never seen the objectives and did not agree to them. The company claim it was emailed, but no record of any discussion or email appears to exist.

I was able to prevent this issue from being discussed at the disciplinary.

Charge 3:

"Colleagues complain you are unhelpful". Again, very recent witness statements just happened to have surfaced during the previous week.  I pointed out that it was inappropriate that the first occasion to discuss was the dismissal meeting, and insisted they track back and have a proper investigation before going down this path.

So this became another thing they couldn't talk about...

Charge 4:

To my amusement, this was the same charge that had already been heard under gross misconduct three weeks previously, where the worker was downgraded. That's still subject to appeal.

I pointed out that you cannot be disciplined for the same thing twice, and after discussion they agreed we couldn't talk about it again, and the allegation was withdrawn.

Charge 5:

The detail escapes me now, but I do remember that I didn't let them talk about it!

The employer agreed to adjourn the hearing.  In the meantime, the lady in question remains suspended on full pay, and the matter looks set to drag on for several weeks, possibly much longer. Hopefully I've helped pave the way for a settlement agreement, which potentially will be the best solution for all.

In the meantime, it's a real mess.

I can't think of any good reason why "kitchen sink" dismissals are attempted. Driven by unpleasantness, they cause great distress to the person getting the letter, and often end up making a dismissal less rather than more likely. Usually, there's no winner.

Employers.  A fair number of them really are useless.

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