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Jenny
Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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Hi, our team complained to HR about our Director earlier in

Resolved Question:

Hi, our team complained to HR about our Director earlier in the year, due to her bullying behaviour. Now she is blocking us from getting other jobs internally. She is not stupid enough to put anything in writing, it is all verbal conversations implying we are not capable of doing the jobs we are applying for. Is there anything we can do to stop her? What rights do we have to access information regarding what is being said about us?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 2 years ago.
taratill :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

Hi, I have worked there since March 2013. To explain the background, we work for an international charity, based in London. Our boss is very insecure and she is threatened by us, so she belittles everyone in our team, making out like we are good for nothing, in order to make herself feel more secure in her position.

Customer:

About a year ago, the Regional Finance Director asked me to apply for the position of Finance Director in our country programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She called him and told him I wouldn't be able to do the job, then she went to the Chief Financial Officer in London and said the same thing.

taratill :

Hello can I just check you are based in the UK as the question suggests you might be based in the staets?

taratill :

states?

Customer:

Hi, sorry, I was on the telephone.

Customer:

Yes, we are based in the UK

Customer:

She has since done the same thing to a number of my other colleagues in our team.

taratill :

Ok thanks have you raised a formal grievance about this? Do you have any reason to suspect that in failing to support your applications you are being discriminated against on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, disability or for raising a health and safety complaint.

Customer:

In January, she broke her leg and was out of the office for a while. She became more and more insecure and her behaviour became more abusive and unbearable.

Customer:

In May, I could not bear it anymore. I realised she would never let me make an internal move out of the team, so I just resigned, but promised to finish out the yea, as I didn't want to abandon the team during what was a very difficult period for us/

Customer:

7/12 of our team have already resigned this year. All the others are looking for other jobs.

Customer:

I recently applied for a project manager's job in Democratic Republic of Congo, with our organisation and was offered the post about 2 weeks ago. I found out this week that she has been going round telling everyone that I don't have the experience for the role and she has been saying to other people that she is going to call the country office and tell them I can't do the job.

Customer:

I had to pass a 3hr exam and a 1.5hr interview to get that job. I was told I performed the best in the test and the interview. Yet she still seems to think that she has a better opinion on whether I can do the job than the technical panel who recruited me.

Customer:

Yesterday, we found out she has done exactly the same thing to my colleague. She applied for an interim finance role in Ethiopia with our organisation. Our boss called the regional finance director and also spoke to the chief finance officer in London, saying that she wasn't capable of doing the job.

Customer:

So this isn't just a one off, it's a pattern of behaviour.

taratill :

Ok please can you tell me if you have raised a grievance and or if you think you are being discriminated against for one of the reasons mentioned above?

taratill :

Please can you answer my quesitons?

Customer:

No, we haven't.

Customer:

We want to stay in the organisation and we are concerned that raising a grievance will just hurt our careers.

Customer:

I have seen people raise grievances in the past and it normally just harms them professionally and personally.

Customer:

We are not being discriminated for any of the reasons above.

Customer:

It is jealousy and revenge.

Customer:

She wil not allow any member of our team to move out of the team and do anything different.

Customer:

It is not against anyone person, it is all of us.

Customer:

Sorry, I didn't see your question the first time round, as I was typing the background information.

taratill :

Ok well the fact that you have less than 2 years service presents you with a problem in that you can be dismissed for any reason in the first 2 years so long as you are not discriminated against contrary to the Equality Act. This means that if you raise a grievance you could potentially find that you are dismissed. It also means that you cannot claim constructive dismissal if this situation leads you to resign. Once you have worked there for 2 years your situation will be better you would be able to raise a grievance without fear of such reprisals. It is a major weakness of UK employment law that there is no protection when you have been employed for less than a year.

taratill :

You do have rights under the Data Protection Act to access information that your employer holds about you.

Customer:

I have already resigned

taratill :

You should make a request for access a (Subject Access Request) in writing to the employer who may charge you £10 for the informaiton and can take up to 40 days to present it.

Customer:

I am just concerned that she will intervene in the offer I have to go and work in our programme in the dem rep of congo, as I haven't been sent a contract yet

taratill :

Well the only recourse in that situation would be in negligent misstatement . This is where something is said about you which is untrue and leads you to suffer a loss.

taratill :

If this occurs you would be able to bring a civil claim against her.

Customer:

Regading the subject access request, does that only apply to information in writing?

Customer:

She is not stupid enough to put any of this in writing, because she knows it would not stand up

taratill :

Yes it is written records

Customer:

she is just going round saying horrible things about us and telling everyone that we can't do any job that we apply for

Customer:

what rights do we have to access information regarding what she has said about us verbally?

taratill :

If you have already resigned then I would strongly advise you raise the concern as a grievance. If she is preventing charity work from effectively happening then the trustees should be aware of it and potentially it could be deemed a whistleblowing issue.

taratill :

No rights to access to verbal information. If you find out she has said something untruthful then this may (although it is unlikely) amount to defamation.

Customer:

She already had a grievance against her in her last job, which was settled before it got to tribunal

Customer:

when you mentioned 'negligent misstatement' does that only apply to writing, or writing and verbal?

taratill :

can apply to verbal but proving it will be harder (for obvious reasons).

Customer:

but we are worried that a grievance will just harm us more than her

Customer:

there has already been an HR review into her, due to the awful turnover in our team and the complaints raised to HR about her behaviour

taratill :

It may do but if you don't raise a grievance then there is nothing else really you can do.

Customer:

there has already been 3 audit directors in the last 3 years, so the organisation has decided that they don't want another change and she should stay

Customer:

they don't want to hear any more complaints about her

taratill :

Ok well legally I have explained your options.

Customer:

I do not think a grievance will be taken seriously by the organisation at this point in time, because they have literally just said to us - she is staying, if you don't like her, then just leave

taratill :

You can raise a grievance and make a subject access request. There is no tribunal claim because you do not have adequate service.

taratill :

If you find that she has said things that are untrue and you suffer a loss you can make a claim.

taratill :

This claim would be in negligent misstatemetn.

taratill :

If you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the time to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.

Customer:

Ok, thank you.

Customer:

Have a nice weekend.

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