Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.
What are you hoping to achieve?
Hello there, the main issue for you here would be your length of service. If you have been continuously employed at your place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as their decision is not based on discriminatory grounds (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, a disability, sexual orientation, etc.) or because you were trying to assert any of your statutory rights (e.g. requesting maternity/paternity leave, etc.). I see no discriminatory reasons here.
So all the factors you have mentioned, such as not providing you with details of the allegations, creating apparent bias by disclosing the allegations, dismissing at an investigatory meeting, dismissing at all….are all irrelevant I'm afraid. That’s because they are all related to the the procedural fairness which is not applicable until you have the 2 years service. The alleged breach of data protection is also a non-issue as you can only really take such maters further if you have suffered direct losses as a result of the disclosure, which is not the case here. So whilst technically it may be a breach, it does not give you any opportunities to challenge it in any way.
If the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the discriminatory exceptions above then you would not be able to challenge it and your only protection would be if you were not paid your contractual notice period, because unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, you would be entitled to receive your contractual notice period. They should have really given you the opportunity to defend yourself properly before dismissing without notice.
If you were not paid your notice period when you were due one, that would amount to wrongful dismissal (which is different to unfair dismissal) and you could make a claim in an employment tribunal to recover the pay for the notice period that you should have been given. There is a 3-month time limit from the date of dismissal to submit the claim. This is the only potential claim I see in the circumstances.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you must follow if you wanted to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Thank you. Defamation is somewhat of an unrealistic option here. Whilst this may appear to be a potential case of defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are extremely difficult to pursue. Many people are intent on suing for defamation without having any appreciation of the law behind them, so I will try and clear things up for you now.
First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:
1. The statement has to be untrue.
2. It must directly identify the complainant.
3. It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.
4. It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.
5. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has occurred, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is extremely complex and expensive. As this goes through the High Court, you would need the professional help of specialist defamation solicitors and the costs are undoubtedly going to run into the thousands right at the outset (usually £15k and above). Also there is no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally. So when you hear about defamation claims being made, these are usually pursued by big corporations or celebrities who have a public image to protect.
You must also consider whether the party alleged of making the defamatory statement can defend the claim. Even if you satisfy the criteria to prove the statement was defamatory it could be defended on a number of grounds, including by providing evidence that the statement was substantially true or an honest opinion.
So the only option is still if you have not been paid your notice period due. In order to try and resolve this, the employer should be contacted in writing, advised that this is being treated as wrongful dismissal and ask them to pay the money within 7 days. Advise them that if they fail to pay the money that is owed, legal proceedings could follow.
If the employer does not return the money as requested, the following options are available:
1. Employment Tribunal - the time limit to claim is only 3 months from the date the deductions were made. To make the claim, form ET1 needs to be completed and submitted - you can find it here: https://www.employmenttribunals.service.gov.uk/employment-tribunals
2. County Court – this is an alternative way to claim and the advantage is that the time limit is a much longer 6 years and is usually used if you are out of time to claim in the Tribunal. The claim can be made online by going to: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.
Hopefully by warning the employer you are aware of your rights and are not going to hesitate taking further action they will be prompted to reconsider their position and work towards resolving this.