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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor Advocate
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm with 20+ years legal experience
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I had an heated exchange with my manager and walked out the

Resolved Question:

I had an heated exchange with my manager and walked out the meeting as he was lying.
When I returned to my desk I mentioned to a colleague saying I could have knocked him out.
It was overheard by 2 other colleagues and they claimed I used the c word and I am being charged with gross misconduct for using offensive language and threatening behaviour
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.

Alex H :

My name is***** and I'm happy to help with your question today.

Alex H :

What would you like to know about this?

Customer: Hi Alex the facts are that I had a meeting with my manager about a wage rise which did not go well as I knew he had lied to me so I walked out of the meeting
Customer: i then went up stairs to my desk and mentioned to a colleague that I feel like knocking him out.
Customer: This was overheard by two other senior members of staff and there wording is I said that I wanted to knock the c**t out.
Customer: They were not supposed to hear this as I was directing it to another colleague.
Customer: My case against me is using offensive language and threatening behaviour and they have charged me with gross misconduct.
Customer: I am very worried I have worked there for 10 years and 9 months in total and for a 5 second outburst which I regret I don't think I should lose my job.
Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
Good morning Carlton

Thanks for clarifying the facts. Is there something specifically you want toknow about this?

Alex

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Would I have a case for unfair dismissal?
I have received no prior warnings or disciplaneries
Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
Understood. Bear with me a few minutes while I type an answer.
Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
Your employer can commence disciplinary procedures when misconduct is alleged. Swearing in the work place or being offensive about a manager could amount to misconduct.

Your employer should have clear rules and standards of conduct in the workplace, backed up by a fair disciplinary procedure. This will give you a clear understanding of the way in which this matter will be handled.

In most circumstances, the disciplinary process involves establishing the facts, informing the employee, holding a disciplinary meeting, and then taking action while providing an opportunity for the employee to appeal.

If your employer does not take these steps and dismisses you then you could have a claim to the ET for unfair dismissal.

In some cases an employer can instantly dismiss (summary dismissal or dismissal without notice), but this should only be considered in cases involving acts of 'gross misconduct'. Even then, fair disciplinary procedures must be followed, so dismissal is hardly ever literally 'instant'.

The allegation that you uttered the c*** word in a moment of upset to a fellow colleague may amount to misconduct on the grounds of insubordination but I don't think that one such incident in 10 years amounts to gross misconduct.

Generally speaking, an act of gross misconduct is considered to be serious enough to overturn the contract between employer and employee, so justifying summary dismissal. In your case I think it would be arguable that instant dismissal should not follow and your employer should consider dealing with the matter by way of an alternative resolution such as a written warning.

Failing to establish the facts before taking action and holding a meeting with the employee, and denying the employee the right to appeal is highly likely to be considered unfair at an employment tribunal and lead to a claim. So you need to ensure that your employer takes these steps.

If you accept that you were rude in a moment of upset then it may be advisable for you to admit this and offer an unreserved apology. This may not only diffuse the situation and stop the matter escalating but accepting responsibility for your actions may encourage your employer to deal with the matter by way of a warning rather than dismissal.
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