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Hi all,

I have worked at Call centre for 2 years since it was rebranded from another company where I had worked for a further 2 years in an inbound customer service role.

I always had great difficulty achieving the average handling time target. They referred me to an occupational health nurse to help cope with stress as a result of difficulties in doing the job to their targets. The OHN's recommendation in addition to speaking to my GP was to arrange side-by-side coaching with a trainer which my employer had arranged. The day of this training I was informed it had to be rescheduled to a later day due to a schedule conflict for the trainer.

Unfortunately later that evening I was sent an email advising of the quarterly stats which used the word "fail" to describe the fact I had missed my target for upsells and cross-sells. I thought this was in reference to missing my AHT target. I stood and went to my managers desk and told him if he continued to send mails telling me I had failed to hit the target my mood was unlikely to improve. I was angry and used bad language, I also banged the mini-filing cabinet along from his desk (which I was on the opposite side of from him, I don't feel I was in his "space"). My manager asked me to leave the room, after which a different pair of managers came and took me to a meeting after which I was suspended. They came back to me with with the charge of Gross misconduct due to it being believed I acted in a "violent and intimidating manner and used rude and abusive language toward a member of staff".


In my disciplinary they ruled if they allowed me to return to work they could not guarantee that there wouldn't be a similar incident and I was therefore dismissed. So, my questions are:

As I wasn't given a statement from my line manager as to what he felt or heard me say- instead two emails from my team-mates have been sent- one of which makes me sound like an east-end thug- am I allowed to insist on a statement from the manager given it was him that would have felt intimidated?


Do I have a case that they hadn't followed their own process for helping me deal with stress in work and that my behaviour whilst unacceptable was partly their fault?


I made the argument in the disciplinary that I had worked there for 4 years without any disciplinaries or problems with my behaviour and as it was completely out of character. I also had only 3 days sick in my entire time with the company.


The worst part aside from losing the job itself is that I would now have to try to look for work with no reference from my previous employer and the stigma of a dismissal- despite knowing that at least some of the managers there would probably have given a good reference.


It feels as though the company has closed ranks and that the decision to terminate my employment was a foregone conclusion before my disciplinary. The information pack they sent me before the meeting contained several errors- as examples, on the letter inviting me to the disciplinary they had put the date of the incident a month in the future, and the transcript from the initial meeting when I was suspended makes no mention of me stating the side by side coaching was cancelled and that had it taken place none of this would have happened. These mistakes they again don't seem to consider important- the date being wrong was just a typo and the transcript may well be incorrect given it was one person's notes of the meeting.


I'm at a bit of a loss as it feels like anything I come to them with they will still respond 'your behaviour was intimidating and as we have to ensure safety of our staff...'

I am not a threatening dude, I don't even like running into non-playable characters on 'puter games, the anger that caused the outburst was due to stress from never hitting the AHT target.


Anyone any ideas, answers or advice? Thanks for any that read to the end, apologies it was so long. :)

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Sorry, a few more questions fella.


You mention in your OP that you've been suffering from stress.

Have you been receiving medical care for this?

Have you been diagnosed as suffering from any illness that might affect your behaviour, Clinical Depression etc?


The incident that you were dismissed for-

could you be more specific about the nature/severity of the language used?

For example,was it -

Just using swear words? "This is s**t, I'm f**king sick of this!"

Direct abuse? "You f**king w**ker!"

Threatening and abusive? "I'm going to f**king kill you!"


From your OP, I personally feel that the Employer's sanction was possibly disproportionate. I don't get the impression that they explored all avenues before deciding to dismiss you.

Particularly given your unblemished record.


You might have an argument at appeal that could get you reinstated, and put back to Final Written Warning.

Time to start preparing a statement that'll work for ya.


What's your standing in the office. Lots of friends? Anyone who doesn't like ya?

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from reading your first post can you confirm


There was no statement from the manager that this happened to?

Was any reference made to any thoughts or feelings the line manager this happened to had expressed in the disciplinary?

The statements that came from your collegues where they provided in writing before your disciplinary?

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No medical diagnosis for stress or other illnesses. Unfortunate tendency to listen to Radiohead a bit much occasionally.


I basically said a few times "If you keep sending me an email telling me that I've ****ing failed when I know that've I've ****ing failled to fit my ****ing aht then you'll get more of me like this".


Around 6 months ago several changes were made to the team I had been on for a year and a half and I think I was quite well liked by the rest of the team. I was moved in these changes into another team in a different room. I had started to settle in though I am quite private and don't really talk to lots of people, though I have quite a few friends there.


Two emails from colleagues on the team were sent to me in the information packet sent to me, one of which says I stood up, spoke unproffessionaly to my manager and walked away when he called me back.


The other makes me sond sorta like Vinnie Jones after he crashes the car at the end of Lock n' Stock- suggesting that I had told my manager he could expect to be getting "it" if he continued mailing me that 'effing mail.


The main force of their argument I reckon is that because there was a perceived threat to a manager from me by another employee that regardless of my explaining what made up the outburst hindsight isn't enough. But I really don't get why no statement from my manager was taken, or not sent to me if one was- as he is the only other person who can say whether he felt threatened by my dumbass rant. No reference to his thoughts were made in the meetings, but as I wasn't denying that I was out of line in the way I had spoke- and the punching of the object seems to be the last of the straws for them- I hadn't realised the onus was on them to have to explore all options before dismissal, but think they would argue again that they don't feel comfortable my coming back to work when there could still be a threat to their staff ot themselves. Which there isn't. But that that's their perception.

The bit that gets me is that the stress in the work place is supposed to be their responsibility, and I was starting their process of dealing with this when it happened, now they don't seem to think that this process would be effective on me.


Thanks for all the thoughts so far.

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I'll post ya tomorrow in full.


Listening to Radiohead on a frequent basis should be covered by the DDA:D.

I do it myself.


The 2 emails given as evidence - is there a significant conflict between them as to what happened?


At your Disc, was there any dicussion raised as to how you might be able to carry on in your job?

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You might want to consider a compromise agreement. Your employer may agree to this rather than risk you going to a tribunal. You will probably get a small cash sum but more importantly a reference to help you secure a new post.


Best of luck!!

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The two versions conflict agree on the basic details, though one has no quotes of what I said and just says I spoke unprofessionally to my manager and walked off despite being called back.

The person closest to where I was stood said the more damning stuff- to the extent that I wasn't in control of myself, again I can't deny I was annoyed but he also says I was pointing my finger in my managers face which I'm sure I wasn't.


I realise now in fact that he and my manager have both worked at the company a long time in different departments too over time, it probably annoyed him a lot as it was pretty disrespectful, but again I was just barking about the frustration of the stats and not calling anyone any bad words.

There wasn't much discussion in the disc. about remaining at the company, at least not from their side- I said something to the effect that I realised I would probably have to move teams again if I came back and I regreted that as it was a good bunch of people. They didn't seem to want to pursue that avenue with me...


I found one last annoying little mistake in the transcript from the first meeting, when at the end they asked me how did I feel now after all my temper had dissipated and I had made a small bird with the stress blutac I had been wringing, and they have me saying "You've achieved one thing, which is to make me feel guilty about the way I spoke to ......"

I actually said "which is to make me realise I feel guilty about the way I spoke to ......"


Little errors but annoying ones.

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OK. So when you get the written decision, put in a letter requesting an appeal. Keep the letter short, just outline the general grounds-


-Dismissal was disproportionate as you were not threatening, merely angry.

-They have failed to give you adequete support to improve in your role.

-They haven't taken into account your previous good service, clearly your actions were entirely out of character.

-They clearly didn't explore all avenues before deciding to dismiss you.

-There are inconsistancies in the evidence given about what you are alleged to have said. Indeed, the manager himself didn't make a statement.


If you can get anyone to give you any support, statements about your previous good character etc., that'd be good.

Arrange for someone to accompany you to the hearing.


I always think it's best to prepare a written statement to present to the Appeal, that way you can put across exactly what you want to say.


You might have an uphill battle here, but don't give up.

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  • 2 months later...

Well. The appeal took so long to setup as the cmpny spent a whole long time sending me the recording of the meeting. But it is done and they sent me another letter to tell me I'm still dismissed. My arguments raised as to the dispropportionate reaction, the mitigating circumstances such as the broken central heating and the stress related difficulties were either ignored or written off as below.

In their response they simply didn't answer alot of my points the ones they did by saying the central heating was awaiting a special part for repair and they provided fans and heaters during malfunctions. Pretty sure they haven't fixed anything but there's nothing I can do.

The stress related assistance they say they provided 100% providing a list of dates of normal off-phone time from the date I was referred to the OHN. The fact the only activity the OHN recommended was what was cancelled on the night it happened isn't addressed because they've got all these other times they had "supported" me.


I still feel I should take this tribunal because they have acted so lamely towards me, feels like they were waiting for the opportunity to fire me and I walked straight into it banging furniture as I went. They use my own garbled-in-transcription words as confirmation from a meeting that I apparantly said "can I say that I can see how the banging of said furniture was threatening". The reason I was so stupidly deferential in the first meeting was that when they suspended me the bloke who did the transcription said he liked my chances as my tone of voice was good, ie I was sorry about it. I went into the dismissal meeting thinking admit all and apooigise for all and they've shafted me with it.


The final letter as I've said showed a bunch of dates from their supporting me, all listed as 2010 rather than 9, and at the end of the same letter they put "you also mentioned a point abt mistakes in the documentation...hwever do not believe errors in dates and single use of an incorrect name mitigate the instance that led to..."


There's another thing that's still proving hard to let up on, which is that in the week before my dumbassed shouting I had spoken to my manager and another about bullying, but quite psychological, in that someone had written something on one of the blackboards the employer seems to think were a good idea. It was basically someone using another member of staffs leaving messages- who shares my name- to write a pretty lame insinuation about me, the kinda thing an 8 year old american kid on xbox live would say. My managers said the best they could do was email out that the blackboards were not for this use, this made me annoyed as it wasn't exactly what I had wanted to hear.

It sounds paranoid, if I'd mentioned this was part of my mitigating circumstances I reckon thats what they'd call it and s'why I hadn't brought it up. but on the day of my appeal in the same spot on the blackboard, same handwriting, same person had written 'bye'. Not having mentioned what I now feel was extra psychological strain at any point in their discply process I dunno what the emplyr would say if I brought it up at the tribunal.

Hopefully all the above might help someone else ever facing similar problems. In my call centre their gusto for firing staff was extremely high and in my case they've taken no measures to keep me on, they would say because they couldn't trust in a recurrence of same behaviour. The one thing they never answered was that their reaction was dispropportionate.

With the fact it seems some smallwitted dinghus was also trying to get at me during the same period, I think I'll call Acas and find out how I go to a tribunal. Even if they tell me I'm wrong, at least I'll have heard it from a voice I can hopefully guarantee wasn't biased by the fact the company wanted me gone.

Thanks again for the help, any other thoughts welcome, hope it helps someone else unfortunate enough to be call-centred in this way.

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In order for an 'unfair dismissal' claim to stand, questions must be answered:


a) Is the conduct of the employee, in this case, the use of foul and abusive language and violence, covered by the internal disciplinary procedure... is it recognise as being a 'Gross Misconduct'?


b) Has the disciplinary procedure been followed (letter, meeting, appeal)?


c) Was the employer reasonable in coming up to that conclusion? (to dismiss)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Having spoken to Acas they've made me feel a tribunal will reflect badly on me- having considered the amount of time and effort seeking a trbnl. which I need to be directing towards getting a new job... acas described my employers view of my case at tribunal would be that I was acting vexatiously. This really stumps me as I guess it was intended to.

I wanted an employment panel to look at all the errors the company made in its transcripts from meetings and the use of wrong dates, and consider my state of mind considering the mitigating circumstances at the time from an unbiased and just point of view, which I don't believe the company has attempted at any point. It still feels massively disproportionate to me but it doesn't feel like there's any point in trying to fight it. Right not might apparantly.

It now seems obvious that new employers will look even more negatively on taking on an employee that tried to appeal a dismissal than on an employee who was dismissed and let it sit. Acas made that clear throughout it doesn't get overturned or deleted just ruled as unfair. But I'd still come away potentially carrying the label of vexatious or if it went thouroughly against me carrying their legal costs. Their using this word seems to be a way of saying they wouldn't be interested in a settlement where I would then at least not be so financially demolished at just the time I need to be getting on with finding work.


Thanks again for the support given.

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