A care support worker who was unfairly dismissed has won an employment tribunal over a pottery class mix-up.
Mrs. Gough helps run activities for disabled clients for Carers Trust East Midlands (CTEM) and one is a weekly pottery class. However, in July 2016, Gough’s manager had informed her the supplier would be unable to send someone to run a class as they were at a funeral. Gough asked her manager if she could drive to the suppliers to collect the required materials to which her manager agreed.
When Mrs. S Gough arrived, the pottery supplier told her it didn’t make economic sense, because the journey to the day centre was too far and the turnout for the classes were too low. Gough told the supplier there could be an alternative with changing the classes however, the supplier would have to get in contact with the person who had booked the classes. After this, the supplier didn’t turn up to the day centre to run the classes for the next fortnight. Also, a leaving party was taking place for Gough’s colleague in the same month and Gough was told to invite a former worker which she did do via text message.
Following a conversation with the pottery supplier, Gough was invited to a disciplinary meeting because she allegedly told the supplier not to send a representative to the classes. It was also alleged that she invited current and former employers to a leaving party that the CTEM might not have insurance for. The meeting was meant to take place two days after however, it was postponed due to Gough being on holiday.
During the time Mrs. Gough was on holiday, the leaving party had gone ahead even though the CTEM hadn’t done anything to stop it from happening. Also, a pottery class was due to take place but the supplier didn’t attend.
A disciplinary hearing had been booked for the day before Gough was due to come back from the holiday but she had never been informed of this. An alternative was offered to Gough to see if she’d like to do the disciplinary hearing via telephone call, but she rejected the option. The meeting continued without her and involved an outsourced HR professional, even though she’d told CTEM she didn’t want to do it over the phone.
Gough was dismissed because she had allegedly caused confusion with the supplier. She was also dismissed for inviting people to a leaving party which could have been a safety risk and affected the organisations reputation. Mrs. S Gough appealed the findings from the disciplinary meeting but her dismissal had been upheld. She then made the decision to take her claims for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal to an employment tribunal.
The Judge had decided that the CTEM had genuinely thought Mrs. S Gough’s actions lead to misconduct. The investigation had been described as “wholly inadequate” as Mrs. Gough wasn’t present at the disciplinary hearing which was “procedurally unfair”. CTEM went off the supplier’s word rather than speaking to Gough. The judge also added whatever Gough had to say in her defence wouldn’t matter because the CTEM were determined to dismiss her.
Gough had therefore won the tribunal and received £784 for wrongful dismissal and £4,466 for unfair dismissal. CTEM were also told to pay £1,200 for Mrs. S Gough’s tribunal fees.
Below explains the difference between dismissals, wrongful dismissals and unfair dismissals.
An employer can dismiss their employee as long as they have a valid reason that can be justified. The employer must also act reasonably in the circumstances and be consistent in the way that the employee shouldn’t be dismissed for something that other employees are allowed to do.
An employee may have been wrongfully dismissed if they weren’t given any notice or the right amount of notice. The dismissal is based upon the contract between the employee and their employer. The employer may have breached the contract which gives the employee the right to sue for wrongful dismissal.
An employee may have been unfairly dismissed if the employer doesn’t have a fair and legitimate reason to dismiss the worker or if the reason was fair and legitimate but the matter wasn’t dealt fairly. Unfair dismissal is a statutory right and is covered by an Act of Parliament.
If you need advice on how to tackle a dismissal in the correct way, please contact a member of the HPC team…
T: 0844 800 5932