Unfair Dismissal

Michelle, a Call Centre Operative, was dismissed for poor performance. The employer claimed she was dealing with an insufficient number of calls and was spending too much time emailing friends and texting/phoning family members on her mobile phone. She appealed, and her appeal was rejected. She had over 2 years’ service. She visited the Carvers office. We advised that she should bring an unfair dismissal claim in the Birmingham Employment Tribunal.

This claim had to be presented within three months of the date of dismissal. It was noted that Michelle had received no prior warnings and her record was clean. It was also noted that she had not received prior, written notice of the disciplinary meeting, had not been permitted to take a companion with her to that meeting, and that the meeting had been less than thorough. Although Michelle did from time to time use her mobile phone and send emails, she did so no more than her various colleagues. Further, whilst her “calls dealt with” figures were lower than some colleagues, they were higher than others. Carvers agreed to spend an initial five hours on the case at an agreed rate. As a result of this work, Michelle received an out of Court offer from her employer of £10,000.00 which she accepted.

Settlement Agreement

Mr Smith, a Salesman, with 10 years’ service, was without warning, called into a meeting with his line manager. He was told that, due to the poor state of the company’s finances, he was to be made redundant with immediate effect. He was given a settlement agreement and requested to visit a local solicitor for advice upon it. The settlement agreement offered to pay his basic redundancy payment and a payment in lieu of his notice of termination under his employment contract. The Carvers’ solicitor explained that the legal effect of signing the settlement agreement was that all/any legal claims (eg for unfair dismissal) were waived by Mr Smith against his employer. Given the company’s failure to follow any adequate procedure (eg prior warnings and consultation), Carvers advised that Mr Smith was likely to have a successful unfair dismissal claim. However, Mr Smith saw legal proceedings as a last resort. Using the threat of legal action as a lever, Carvers successfully negotiated a significant uplift in the amount offered by the employer under the agreement. Further, the agreement was amended to require the employer to give a good reference, upon request, to any future employer. Carvers’ legal fees were met in full by the employer.

Sexual Harassment

Miss Green, an Office Junior in a solicitor’s firm, was one day asked by her male line manager to accompany him to a warehouse on the pretext of picking up some files. When there, the line manager showed Miss Green a bed he had prepared and invited her to sleep with him. She refused and ran out. He did not physically touch her. Miss Green visited the Carvers office. Miss Green wished to resign. We advised her to do so with immediate effect and also to file a grievance setting out in detail what had happened. She had less than 2 years’ service. Accordingly, she could not bring an unfair dismissal claim. However, we advised that there is no service qualification to bring a sexual harassment claim. As to the merits of such a claim, this would be a case of “his word against hers”. No doubt the line manager would emphatically deny everything. However, fortunately, the line manager had taken Miss Green to the top floor of the warehouse. There was no legitimate reason for him to have done so. She was able to describe in detail the layout of that floor. On balance, this meant her story was likely to be believed by a Tribunal. In addition to assisting and drafting of her grievance, Carvers entered into confidential, without prejudice (ie off the record) discussions with the employer. A settlement agreement with a severance payment of £6,000 representing loss of earnings and £15,000 for injury to feelings, plus an agreed reference, was reached. The employer also agreed to pay a large part of Miss Green’s legal fees in terms of Carvers’ assistance with her grievance, as well as advice on the settlement agreement.