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Long running Unfair Dismissal after 10 years service.


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I am completely new to this site and have been skimming through the very worthwhile posts trying to find something similar to my own situation. Decided to post a new thread as I keep getting caught up in some of the very unhappy situations out there.

This looong story begins on the 15th Feb. I am a civil engineering technician I've worked for a family run (2 employees) company for 10 years, I have never had any verbal or written warnings or given any cause for complaint. A job I was working on started without the necessary planning permission being put into place and unfortunately a small bank of earth fell. It was all on waste ground but one nearby neighbour has been objecting and is now slightly more aggrieved.. I was summoned to the office on the 15th Feb and drilled by my boss (I was off sick with a cold, my sick leave is still in single figures after 10 years!) On the 19th as I was leaving I was given a written warning of serious misconduct and told to attend a disciplinary hearing in one week, I was suspended on a weeks pay. My concerns are this, I repeated verbally told the boss about the planning app and he told me it wasn't important as there were other jobs to be getting on with, I had a very heavy workload, the boss is hard to get hold off and we dont have weekly meetings or even an office workboard. I'm in the clear with the bank of earth as I have it in writing to the contractor that it was unsafe, the problem was it fell and there was no planning app. Having seen e mails floating around the office citing vast amounts of bills unpaid I'm concerned the boss is using this to dismiss me.

Basically there are two parts to the planning permission for the site. The more onerous part of the site was applied for and granted the second was a smaller area of scrubland which was to be surfaced. The job started on site without the planning permission for the smaller part of the works. I made my boss aware of this at various stages verbally. Planning permission has since been applied for. As far as I know there have not been any objections. I instructed the site foreman to make the bank safe which he didn't. Some of the bank fell in after I told him. I have made other planning applications for various works, my roles and respnsibilities are that I should be working with or under a senior engineer on projects. My boss signed off everything in relation to this job that I had worked on.

My contract is a statement of particulars and makes no reference to any disciplinary proceedures and there are no disciplinery proceedures in the office. There are no policies etc, etc on anything.

Also on the Monday when I was called in and asked about what had happended my boss said to leave it with him.

I worked for the rest of the week then was given a letter saying that it was a serious misconduct issue and I was suspended for a week and to attend a disciplinery meeting on 1st March.

I was also given a copy of the firms disciplinery proceedures which I have never seen before. It is highlighted on the proceedure that it is entirely non contractual. There is nothing in the procedure that states the penalties for serious misconduct, only gross. The letter does say my employment could be terminated with notice. The underlying gripe is that the neighbour could now object to the application for the works which have already commenced

My boss left for a weeks holidays after issuing the letter which accused me of serious misconduct, the suspension and notifiying me of the hearing date.

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An outside HR person was brought in, friend of bosses daughter, I was told of her involvement the night before the hearing. She set the agenda, chaired and asked all the questions whilst my employer sat there, no evidence was presented either. On my part I had a witness to this hearing.

 

I had already told the contractors NOT to dig as steep as they did so I have endless amounts of data to cover me on that one. The thing is, it’s all been fixed, permission is through and it seems as if I've been disciplined for a 'just in case it all went wrong' situation. I have always acknowledged that I should have pushed planning through faster, if the piece of earth bank hadn't fallen down it would have all progressed as normal. I think my employer had a panic and grabbed me to discipline in case someone complained or asked questions.

 

I received my dismissal notice 7 days later, gross misconduct with notice. There was written evidence (copies of letters and emails) attached to the 8 page letter of dismissal, this evidence was not given to me before or during the hearing, they were not even presented during the hearing. I lodged my appeal 5 days later.

Forgot to add- they asked me to collect all my books etc from the office and gave me a copy of the minutes, they are full of inaccuracies and do not record my answers only'. Also from 3 charges at the disciplinary the letter of dismissal contained another 9!! which had never been brought up during the hearing. Some are beyond, such as 'we have been very generous in allowing you to pick up your daughter from school'. The pick up takes 10 mins (childminder lives beside school across the road from my office) and I always made it up by working through my lunch hour.(45mins)

I have always held my hands up and said, 'yes I did not push planning permission through fast enough' but its very common in this line of work to have even retrospective planning permission.

 

There were no orders from the planning service to stop the works, I have checked the status of the application both online and via phone calls.

 

My original argument was that I was disciplined for something that had not yet happened i.e. the planning service would not grant permission. I drive past the site every day and it all looks pretty good, all work is complete.

The good news during this time is that I have been re employed by a better, bigger firm so how can I be dismissed for 'gross misconduct' and then re employed with a bigger, better firm in exactly the same job?

 

Four weeks after I lodged my appeal I received a 250 page document to form part of a re-hearing scheduled in 8 days times. It is unbelievable the amount of utter rubbish in there. They have tried to blame me on everything possible. Upon Solicitors advice I lodged an ET1 as they should have granted an appeal first and I, by this time, was utterly sick of the whole thing.

They had 28 days to respond, as you all know, 3days ago I received a letter from the Tribunals and a copy of a letter from my ex employer asking for an extension as he had been out of the office for 2 weeks. Again, utter rubbish, we live in a very small town and we pass his office regularly and he was there EVERY day! I wrote to the tribunals citing objection on these grounds. Unfortunately they replied with some long winded dribble about a review hearing of the original decision to grant an extension. As this has been going on since Feb I am only hanging in with it all in case I regret not doing anything.

I know I have taken advice from a Solicitor but can anyone help me with the appeal vs rehearing bit. I read that its ok to have a rehearing to address original errors and then read you must have the appeal first then a rehearing.

Any thoughts or advice or similar situations would be a help as I'm finding it hard to hang in there. To be honest I have no monetary gain and I'm now re employed I just want justice and to let them know they have a fight on their hands.

As said at the beginning re unpaid bills, the company filed dormant accounts a few weeks ago which if they are going bust makes it harder for me to acknowledge the load of rubbish they tried to pin on me as I would have understand going bust better than a character assassination

 

Thank for any help. sorry its so long.clip_image001.gif

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You posted this originally on I resign back then, didn't you? I recall the case, and seem to think it was on that site.

 

But to answer your questions - a tribunal would generally allow an extension of time. They would rather do that then end up with a case being appealed. They (and you) cannot prove that the claim was false - since you are the respondant your word, or the word of people who know you, isn't likley to be taken on a matter like this. Sorry.

 

The appeal v. the rehearing bit - there isn't a legal rule on this so it isn't set down anywhere that things must be in a certain order. But as a small employer such a small point wouldn't help your case anyway, as small employer have more latitude. The law now only requires them to make reasonable efforts to get the processes right, so even if there had been a procedural error, it probably wouldn't be enough to make a substantial difference to the overall case, one way or the other.

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I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.

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Yes I had posted on i resign, such a shame that site fell by the wayside. It was a source of info in a pretty dreadful time. Thanks for responding so quickly.

 

Yes it was. It was a very good site but I am afraid became the victim of its own success and the site owners greed - they wouldn't moderate the site, and it attracted some pretty nasty trolls who were very racist. Having been threatened with the Race Relations Act, they choose to close the forum rather than moderate it. I didn't post there, but I often browsed it and they had some excellent advisors on the site.

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I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.

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Sorry, just another point.

If I have already been dismissed how do I know what I've been dismissed for, there were originally only 3 reasons, this had increased to 9 in my dismissal letter. I wasn't privy to any evidence before or during my suspension or disciplinary hearing. So called 'evidence' only appeared 4 weeks after I was dismissed, I presume to hammer me down so hard I wouldnt fill out an ET1:smile:

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Have you got solicitors representing you or are you doing the ET thing yourself? We have an outstanding ET case which I might need help with in due course, so interested in what you are doing.

I receive solictors advice but on the form I represent myself, she has said she will step in if it reachs the Tribunal stage, we have to go through the Labour Relations concilliation first.

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I receive solictors advice but on the form I represent myself, she has said she will step in if it reachs the Tribunal stage, we have to go through the Labour Relations concilliation first.

 

Ah damn and drat - you never mentioned you are in Northern Irelland. The law is somewhat different there. Sorry but whilst there are similarities, there are differences too and I do not practice in Northern Ireland so I couldn't tell you what they are.

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I am a barrister specialising in employment law, and only represent employees. My advice on employment issues is advice - not legal opinion - and is based only on the facts you provide. If you want an accurate assessment of your case and prospects, you should get legal opinion from a lawyer - not a public forum. Anything I tell you is for guidance only, and is based on my experience of the law in the context of what details you provide.

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