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Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6264
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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I have recently been suspended from work (full pay)

Customer Question

I have recently been suspended from work (full pay) for gross misconduct (Use of racial words towards another member of staff, mis use of company email ac**t, posting inappropriate comments about other work colleagues on social media (i.e. internal IM) and unprofessional behaviour).
The allegation was brought forward by my manager who saw a comment from another employee on my computer screen, which he felt was a cause of concern. He did not state that i was being racist nor bullying another employee.
Background info: Me and My manager have a strained relationship since i announced i was pregnant in March and in fact I am due to go on Maternity leave on 2nd October. Since I have been pregnant, they have penalised me for being late into the office (due my morning sickness) and he often made snide remarks if i had spent time in the toilets being sick. When I had raised my grievance to HR, the rep stated to me that I was being emotional and sensitive due to my hormones and did not allow me to explain from my side as she does have a close relationship with my manager inside and outside of work. They also tried pushing me down the disciplinary route for lateness and sickness (though all was around my pregnancy). I was also unaware that I had hit a sickness trigger point and was not paid for my absent days for 3 months - when i had raised this,HR had stated that it was my responsibility and i should have known about this issue and they did not advice i need to provide a doctors note to cover me and therefore I have lost pay. In addition to this, I had no risk assessment on my work station and my doctor had to request for this. However other pregnant ladies in the office have had this assessment immediatly by the request of their manager. Since March to present day, I have felt that I have been bullied and penalised for being pregnant as I have not been treated the same as other pregnant ladies in the office.
This gross conduct investigation feels as though its another way to push me out the office. I was caught of guard into a meeting room to discuss the investigation (no prior warning was given) and I was immediatly suspended from work until they carry out the investigation/ reports. I was not questioned about the conversation my manager saw but due to that, HR decided to look into all email correspondents - firstly is this acceptable when the conversation in question was not an issue, does this not breach some privacy laws? Secondly, the email chains was between me and another colleague and was not aimed at a particular employee (more than anything it was a bitchy conversation about my frustrations). The language HR are referring to, was in Punjabi and the interpretation of the word is different to what was intended and was used by me and another employee.And in fact the interpretation that they are referring to is not what was used by myself - I'm not sure where they have found the interpretation as on Google I have not found the same.
Questions i have are,
Why am i suspended for gross misconduct when another employee who recently was fired was not on suspension while they carried out the investigation? how is this a fair process?
Should I have been asked about the initial conversation that my manager raised?
If there was nothing in that conversation, why did they feel the need to investigate all my emails when my manager did not state I was being a bully or racist at that point?
I am due to go on maternity leave on 2nd October, can they pursue this whilst on maternity leave?
As I am under investigation, can I raise the bullying I have recieved from my manager during this time?
Should I have been given notice before the investigation meeting?
Am I in the right to feel that I am being targetted once again?
The stress they have caused over the last 7 months is affecting me and my unborn child - is this fair?
Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. How long have you worked for your employer?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have worked at the company for 3 years and 1 month - I joined Aug 2012.

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
So are you saying that you believe you have been treated badly as a result of your pregnancy and that this is fabricated to dismiss you for that reason?
Have you raised any grievance about the strained relationship other issues that have occurred prior to the suspension?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

It certainly feels that way, every few week he seems to have a dig or I am being collared into a meeting room for some issue or the other.

Before he became my manager, I had joined his team from another division and my pay was different to his. He constantly harrassed me during that time about how much I was being paid and I shouldnt have any issue in doing this new role as I am being paid enough. I raised this with my manager at that time and he did nothing. Instead he told him about my grievance and he started asking me questions which i felt was a breach of privacy. (this was last year May- July time).

In Sept 2014 he became my manager and the first thing he stated was I now know how much you are being paid which I felt was very unprofessional. From Sept - Dec 2014 he was not supportive as a manager and used to dissappear from the office early etc.
In Feb 2015, we had a company restructure and our roles altered, at this point I had mentioned to another manager I do not want to report to him going forward as I do not get support, help and Im sick and tired of the digs. my manager reports to this manager who i aired my concerns with. The manager had stated please get along with him for my sake I just want an easy life.
From March 10th to present date I have aired to his manager that I feel victamised and bullied and the stress it has caused on me and my unborn child is unfair when my performance (as we work in sales) has not been affected. He does not see how my manager has been unfair at all. In fact, when I told them I was pregnant, & I am suffering with morning sickness they made no allowances or understood that travelling to work has a impact and i do have to get off the tubes to be sick or to take a breather and as a result I will be late and at most I was late by 15 mins. I was penalised for being 1 min late on several occassions. I had expressed in several emails that this is unfair and is stressing me out. As the team is a male dominent team, before my 3 months scan I didnt want anyone to know i was expecting. His manager stated that I should tell the team as they are querying why I am being late and not being charged with a £1 fine. My colleagues, if they are late into the office, they are charged a £1 fine but it is not recorded, whereas I was not charged a £1 fine but my latness was recorded despite it being for a justified reason. In June this year, they had tried the disciplinary route and stated that last year I was constantly late even though this was never discussed in an email or meeting. therefore my argument was, you have no justification to target me now. Each email that has been sent to me by either my manager or HR I have stated that I am not happy. after the disciplinary meeting was dropped his manager asked me how I was feeling at which point i stated I was unhappy, felt victimised and it was unfair to do this to someone who is pregnant.

Since this, a male employee has had a baby and was allowed to work from home despite us having a no work from home policy - when I had asked if I could work from home due to back pains (which was covered by the docs note) they stated No I am not allowed. The HR rep constantly ignores me in the office & gives me dirty looks (as she has a close relationship with him inside and outside the office).

I was due to speak to the HR director about my issues however I wanted to rectify the miss pay issues and I had given HR a back dated docs note (which I have not heard anything about). But unfortunatly they had attacked me first with his gross misconduct investigation.

During this investigation meeting over a week ago, I expressed that me and my manager have a strained relationship and is this another targetted offence, to which they stated no but also dismissed what I had stated because during that meeting, I had stated that another colleague was inappropriate towards me over a year ago but I do not wish to pursue this further and yesterday they asked me further details about this but not about my manager.

I feel that it is very unclear why I am being treated differently furthermore, why i am being investigated for gross misconduct

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hi I am sorry that you have been treated badly since you have become pregnant. In the UK it is unlawful to treat a pregnant employee badly and if you are dismissed by reason of pregnancy it is automatically unfair dismissal. Sadly it is not an uncommon occurance.
I would suggest that you now raise a grievance about all of the things you have said above and state that you believe that you are being targeted for a contrived gross misconduct allegation due to your pregnancy and if you are dismissed you will claim unfair dismissal and sex discrimination. You should give as much detail as possible in this grievance.
To answer your specific questions not already dealt with above there is no requirement for notice to be given for an investigation. You only need to be given notice and the right to be accompanied at disciplinary hearings. It is not a fair process if you have been suspended due to your pregnancy. Theoretically if there is an act of gross misconduct by a pregnant employee there is nothing to prevent an employer from taking action whilst she is pregnant.
It does seem that your employer has been very unfair to you. I would therefore urge you to raise a grievance in the manner I have suggested.
If you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would take the tie to rate my answer. Thank you and all the best.
Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6264
Experience: Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
Jenny and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hello is there anything further you would like to know about this situation?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much :)

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
No problem, all the best with this. Do come back to me in the future if you need to.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, I do have one last question,

As my manager saw a msg on my screen from another employer which he felt was a "cause of concern" (although I have not been asked anything about this message and there was nothing untoward about this message either nor has my manager stated I am actively bullying or being racist to anyone) Do they have the right to look into all emails/ messages on my laptop and proceed with gross misconduct?

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
If it was your work email account then potentially they would particularly if the internet/ email policy at work allows for such monitoring. You can ask to see a copy of any relevant policy to check it is included.
If it is not you can raise it in your grievance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you..

Also, the words that they deem as racist was in another language (Punjabi) which was not used or intended to be used in a racist term. The word to me means saucepan, pan - in other words saying someone is Dim, plank of wood etc whereas they are assuming it means black.

Given the fact that my employer is predomentley from a white background and do not speak punjabi, Can they interpret the word to suit them? and do they need to get an official translator to interpret the word? And will my intention be counted for if he proceeds to a hearing meeting?

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
They should take into account your explanation for the use of the word. If you can evidence this than that is better, i.e. by using a translator or interpretor.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


My doctor has given me a sick note for my last two weeks before my due date & has signed me off as "unfit to work" due to stress, as its also affecting the baby's movement which now has to be monitored for the next few days.

Are my employers allowed to force me to have a conference call/ meeting during this period? And Can I request that I deal with there allegation when I return?

I'm at 35 weeks and I really cant be dealing with the stress of it all, its affected my sleep and im worried it will affect my baby too.

Many thanks


Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Your employer has a duty to protect your health and safety as such, if your doctor says its bad for your health, the employer should not require you to attend a meeting before the baby is born.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Unfortuately they have stated that the meeting will still go ahead and a decision will be made with or without me or a representative can attend on my behalf. It genenuinly feels that want me out at whatever cost.

Also the employee handbook states that I can postpone the meeting to five days, the original meeting was Tuesday and they have reschedule the meeting for Friday (which is not five days), Are they allowed to do this?

Also, as I was unable to attend the meeting for my allegation, they have stated that this is on hold until i either attend the meeting which is after my investigation meeting, or i submit my report. Either way, they are not temporarily suspending the investigation to listen to my allegation first. Is this correct?

What are my options at this point?

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hi I am surprised they are taking this course of action. You need to care for your health first.
If you are dismissed you can bring a claim. You should really try to visit an employment lawyer face to face as I think you have a good claim against them in the circumstances you are in.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

well it seems that they want me out the company at whatever cost. the report that they have given me contradicts what I said, when they told me their version of the translation of the word, i did not agree that was the case - so i dont feel that its a fair investigation either way & I feel like im being cornered.

I have copied there reply below, as i am slightly concerned at their response:

Thank you for your email and for sending across your doctors’ notes, we are very sorry to hear that you are unwell.

"We have rescheduled your disciplinary hearing for Friday 18th September at 11 am, XXXX will now be chairing, please find attached letter confirming the details. We appreciate that this is a very stressful time for you and in order to minimise your stress, if you wish, we are happy for you to send your representative to the hearing on your behalf or alternatively you can make a written submission stating your case which will be considered at the hearing. Please note that this hearing will go ahead and if you are unable to attend, a decision will be made in your absence.

We have also rescheduled your grievance meeting with XXX and XXXfor Friday 18th September at 12.30pm. As we are yet to receive the details of your grievance, we will not be proceeding with this meeting in your absence. If you wish to go ahead with this meeting, again if you are unable to attend, we are happy for you to send a representative along or provide a written submission which will be investigated and responded to.

With regards ***** ***** questions below, the purpose of a disciplinary hearing is to give you the opportunity to respond to the allegations being made against you and ask any questions you may have relating to the investigation and/or process, therefore we will address any further questions you have then.

Please be assured that we wish to resolve this matter swiftly and minimise any additional stress this process may be causing you so that you can focus on your health"

Again, they refuse to answer my questions regarding why they viewed all other email correspondents when none of the emails related to my manager and why they refuse to answer the question about a male employee not being suspended during his investigation - i feel that I have ever right to ask these questions before the hearing. I have also requested for the email chain of the allegation along with the date and time it was sent as I feel that it coincides with a email i sent about being reimbused for my back dated days off.

Do I send a report for both investigation and my allegation? Can i ask them for a SAR (subject access request) for all details, emails that have been sent about me?

As I wont be attending the meeting at all, as my baby is my priority right now being at 35 weeks. how do I go around this?

Also they have pressed with the investigation meeting before my allegation meeting dispite me stating that its a "contrived miss conduct" - again is this allowed?

I really dont know what the best thing to do right now.

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
All you can do is do what they have asked and sumbmit the reports.
They can hold both meetings concurrently.
If you are terminated then you should appeal and claim. I would suggest you engage an employment lawyer to assist you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

ok, thank you for all your help. :)

Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
No problem, good luck with this.

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