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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46783
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Ya - hope thats Ben?colleague and union member was put

Customer Question

hi ya - hope thats Ben?
colleague and union member was put on 'informal action plan' which turned into a 'formal disciplinary' and I managed to argue that she had had mitigating circumstances (i.e. deputy is deliberately undermining her) and the action plan was put in place without her agreement. She was also suffering depression and anxiety due to workload but they carried on and were at one point going to do the disciplinary meeting without her present.
anyway, she didnt get the formal warning 'on this occasion'. that was january.
since then she has found evidence on cctv of her deputy taking pics of banned items that we don't sell (they were put in her office with note 'do not sell') and he then wrote email to oxfam asking why these items were on sale..the pics on email and time and date match exactly the time he was in shop!
so, oxfam are investigating, and thats ongoing - but that only started this week and now
line manager has again put her on another 'action plan' with over 20 'to do'..this looks to me like a deliberate attempt to get her gone (she has lost many managers over the years due to her management style)
what's your advice?
jane
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hi Jane, how long has she worked there for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
8 years..12 in total with oxfam - its a furniture and electrical shop - very unusual and very very difficult - as you can imagine they have to PAT test all the electricals etc
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Why was she put under an action plan?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
well shop is down on last year about £6/8000 but so is the majority of shops including mine..and i'm not on action plan
Karen is pretty sure its personal and her Area manager is trying to manage her out on performance..I know no laws are being broken here, but after Karen NOT getting her disciplinary first time round it seems she is trying again?
also Karen is black and the only black manager in the area SW London (which is hardly diversity!) and although she hasn't got evidence for discrimination she says it feels like it..she was on 50% duties till last Monday and now back to normal duties - she didn't have a back to work meeting if that's relevant?
is there any point in raising a grievance or fight the action plan?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
No direct laws have been broken but that does not mean there is nothing wrong with this. I would say it is likely to be a form of bullying. Bullying is unfortunately something that happens all too often in the workplace. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual subjected to it. So if this manager is using their position to try and pick on her and to eventually try to remove her then it can be a way of bullying. Whilst there is nothing preventing him from eventually dismissing her, she does have the protection against unfair dismissal if needed. It would be for the employer to prove that there was a fair reason for dismissal and that a fair procedure had been followed. Try not to think that if the first disciplinary did not work they cannot discipline her again if needed. If she is guilty of the same or other things then they can discipline her again, but it looks like they are fishing for things to use against her and that is where bullying really comes in. I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46783
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thanks Ben, that's exactly how it feels and Karen is pretty sure that this is bullying - how do we address this? do we launch grievance and say its bullying under Equality Act and that the 'action plan' is a performance management tool to find fault and eventually make this manager's position untenable with this line manager?
Would seeing Karen's action plan help you?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Bullying is no covered by the Equality Act unless the bullying is for a discriminatory reason such as age, gender, race, disability, etc. In terms of what the victim of bullying can do to try and deal with such problems, the following steps are recommended: 1. First of all, and if appropriate, the employee should try and resolve the issue informally with the person responsible for the bullying.2. If the above does not work or is not a viable option, the employee should consider raising a formal grievance with the employer by following the company's grievance policy. This formally brings the bullying issue to the attention of the employer and they will have a duty to investigate and deal with it.3. If, following a grievance, the employer fails to take any action or the action they take is inappropriate, the employee would need to seriously consider their next steps. Unfortunately, employment law does not allow employees to make a direct claim about bullying. As such, the most common way of claiming for bullying is by resigning first and then submitting a claim for constructive dismissal in an employment tribunal (subject to having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer). The reason for resigning would be to claim that by failing to act appropriately, the employer has breached the implied terms of mutual trust and confidence and failed to provide a safe working environment and that there was no other option but to resign. However, this step should only be used as a last resort as it can be risky, after all it will result in the employment being terminated. In general, a victim should try and gather as much evidence as possible before considering making a formal complaint and certainly before going down the resignation route. As bullying often takes verbal form, the best way is to keep a detailed diary of all bullying occasions so that there is at least some reference in written form that the employer and/or the tribunal can refer to.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it could well be discriminatory as she is black and her line manager was undermining her by contacting her deputy..while she was on her day(s) off..
i realise that unless a law is breached its pretty much 'hearsay' but I think its important to not let your employer beat you down..
could we go with 'set up to fail' and say that the excessive workload (oxfam have said is unacceptable and needs addressing) hasn't been addressed and apart from the line manager we have no support i.e. no paid staff cover for sickness or holiday and remember no volunteer wants to work as hard as the manager..
can we ask if other managers in this area are on 'action plans' or is it just Karen?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
It is easy to raise discrimination as a reason but it could well be a coincidence too so some further evidence will be needed than just saying she is black. The undermining could have easily happened to a white manager in her position. Whilst you van ask if others are on action plans the employer does not have to disclose this information but you have nothing to lose by asking this
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
she has pointed out that as the only black manager in sw london just seems not very diverse, as per their 'values' etc..
ok might do the asking about others on action plans just to piss them off..
should her deputy have been suspended while this investigation is ongoing?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
No there is no need for a suspension, that does not happen automatically, on;y if absolutely necessary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
ok we are going to try to do as asked on the action plan - with questions when its not clear etc
then if she gets even more 'to do's' after this then we will go down the excessive workload and get occupational health involved etc..does this seem reasonable?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
yes OH will get involved if there is a clear case of stress at work or any other heath-related concerns. They can be useful in confirming someone is working under unreasonable stress, although she can rely on her own practitioner if necessary and the employer must also consider that
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thanks a lot - we will use this route - ive taken the decision to close good Friday as i'm owed so much leave and if I was to work I get another 2 days to take which i'll never get
our ceo gave everyone a 'free day' as a reward but what the stupid man didn't realise is that shop managers find it hard enough to take ALL our leave let alone another day..ridiculous!
have a good break..
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
It is ironic really, you think you are doing good by working for a charity but it looks like you are getting a raw deal overall. Anyway enjoy the holidays too, thanks

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