Employment Tribunal, Case No. 2403061/02, October 2002 – April 2003.
The applicant resigned his job as a parking attendant and successfully claimed to the Tribunal for unfair dismissal. The Tribunal agreed that because of the employer’s conduct the applicant had been constructively dismissed and the dismissal was unfair. A relatively small part of the relevant conduct was that a supervisor had made fun of the applicant’s stammer. This was not a Disability Discrimination Act claim
The applicant was a parking attendant, walking a beat and issuing parking tickets. There was an unofficial target of tickets to be issued per day. The applicant believed supervisors showed favouritism in the beats allocated to particular attendants thereby affecting their ability to achieve the target. He complained to the head office about favouritism and victimisation but received no reply.
The applicant had a stammer. One of his supervisors made fun of this, saying to him on occasion “Spit it out B….. [his surname]”.
The applicant acted as witness in a disciplinary hearing relating to a colleague. He was allocated, for the second time in three days, a less productive beat which the other day had been allocated to that colleague. The applicant complained, and later that day was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. The allegations were that he had refused to accept his beat pattern and had been aggressive towards the supervisor.
At the hearing the applicant was not given the opportunity to answer the allegations. The hearing decided that a final written warning would be issued.
At an appeal against this written warning, the applicant did cross-examine the supervisor. The final warning was upheld. The officer hearing the appeal accepted the evidence of the supervisor that the applicant had sworn and behaved in an aggressive manner. The applicant’s appeal was allowed on the issue of failing to go on a beat.
At the appeal, the applicant complained to the officer hearing it that he was being victimised and bullied by the supervisor. He said there was a lot of animosity towards him because he had represented the colleague at a disciplinary hearing, because he complained about beat patterns, that the supervisor was constantly “on the applicant”. He told the officer about his previous complaint to head office. The Tribunal found that the applicant’s allegation was not independently investigated before the officer proceeded to make his decision on the appeal.
Other complaints made by the applicant were, said the Tribunal, also not investigated.
A couple of weeks after the appeal hearing, the supervisor complained that that the applicant had threatened him. The applicant was suspended pending disciplinary action. The applicant’s response to the allegation was that it didn’t happen, he was being victimised, and the employer would take the supervisor’s side. A few days later and before the hearing, the applicant handed in his letter of resignation. The Tribunal found that he did so because he did not believe he would receive a fair hearing and because of how he said the supervisor had been treating him personally.
The Tribunal commented that the applicant did not follow the grievance procedure by making a grievance in writing to his supervisor.
Held: the employer was in fundamental breach of contract and accordingly the employee had been constructively dismissed.
The applicant had made complaints which had not been dealt with.
The first hearing had been defective because the applicant was not given the chance to respond. Also the applicant’s assertion that he was being victimised was dismissed without investigation. The failure of the appeal officer to investigate the complaint before accepting the supervisor’s word was a breach of the implied duty of mutual trust and confidence.
When the supervisor had made the further complaint, it had been reasonable for the applicant to assume that his complaint would not be investigated and that he would not receive a fair hearing.
Finally the supervisor had made fun of the applicant’s stammer and threatened him with dismissal.
Accordingly the applicant had been constructively dismissed, and the dismissal had been unfair.
Compensation was subsequently computed at £2,011.15.