The Law at Work in the News
Ex Tennent's Workers Take Firm to Employment Tribunal
Herald - September 2016
THREE FORMER Tennent's workers have hit out at the drinks giant after being made "scapegoats" for alleged theft, drinking and smoking at the brewery. Forklift truck drivers Richard Pearson, Terence McPhilemy and James Ferrie, were all named by an anonymous whistle-blower after bosses at the Glasgow site found cigarette butts and empty beer cans. They all denied the claims and eventually took their case to an Employment Tribunal after being subjected to a "sham" disciplinary investigation.
Mr Pearson, 55, and Mr McPhilemy, 57, won their cases and received a combined £27,000 payout, while Mr Ferrie, 59, lost out because he took the advice of his union representative and resigned at an early stage.
Mr McPhilemy, of Glasgow, who said his life had been "turned upside down" by the lager producer, was forced to resign after bosses told him he could either be sacked and leave with nothing or resign and receive his notice pay. As it was just before Christmas, he felt pressured to resign so his family would not be left with nothing over the festive period.
Mr Pearson, of Condorrat, North Lanarkshire, was not sacked but bosses did not pay his wages in December as a punishment and he also eventually resigned.
Employment Judge Ian McFatridge found that the men had been unfairly, constructively dismissed by manager Alan Edgar who had little evidence against them. The Judge said: "It appeared to me that Mr Edgar had an entirely fixed mind on the subject and that the disciplinary process was essentially a sham." He also said that he had "absolutely no doubt" that had Mr Ferrie not resigned and waited to be sacked, "such a dismissal would have been unfair."
The Tribunal heard that at the end of October last year, there were concerns that workers were smoking on site, and empty cans and packaging were discovered. When staff were made aware, an anonymous worker came forward claiming Mr Ferrie regularly drank on-site, Mr McPhilemy was stealing from the brewery and smoked in his forklift truck, and Mr Pearson smoked in his truck. They were suspended while an investigation was carried out.
Mr McPhilemy was later cleared of stealing after it emerged he had permission from his line manager to take cans home when there was a burst pallet, but he admitted smoking in his truck on one occasion when it was raining. He said: "I didn't think smoking one cigarette was that serious, I was in total shock. They told me I was going to be sacked and I would be better resigning because I would be paid my notice. It was coming up to Christmas, and I was panicking, I felt under pressure, and I thought I was better to get something to see my family through December and January, so I resigned."
Mr Ferrie, of Glasgow, was accused of drinking on site by another member of staff who had admitted to drinking because he was an alcoholic. Ahead of his disciplinary hearing, his GMB union rep advised him to resign so that he received some pay and he agreed. This ultimately resulted in him losing out at the Tribunal.
Mr Pearson was dealt with lastly, and the evidence against him consisted only of the anonymous worker saying he had smoked in his truck. He was issued with a final written warning and told he would receive no bonuses for two years. He was also told that he would be suspended without pay for one month and initially believed that he would receive no pay in January, but when he went to the Bank just before Christmas, he had no wages. Mr Pearson, who also eventually resigned, said: "This really spoiled my Christmas last year and I ended up with depression. It caused a lot of worry in my house, I was the primary breadwinner, and we had no wage coming in December." He described the investigation as a "witch-hunt," adding: "They took that anonymous person's word against mine very, very easily. They were looking for somebody to persecute, and that was us."
Both Mr Pearson and Mr McPhilemy have struggled to find work after resigning and said the decision against Mr Ferrie, who is now working as a taxi driver, had "put a dampener on things."
Tennent's did not respond to The Herald's request for a comment.
Payout for Sacked Morton's Worker
Herald - September 2014
A BAKERY firm has been forced to pay a former employee £13,000 in a row over pies. The delivery driver successfully sued the firm for unfair dismissal after he was sacked amid claims he was selling the meat products on the side from his company van. The firm also believed the claimant was undercutting the business and selling direct to its customers, but an Employment Tribunal ruled there was insufficient evidence to support either of the claims. The Employment Judge said bosses at the bakery had "jumped to conclusions" over the driver's conduct and that their disciplinary investigation was "lacking."
In a letter issued to the driver in October last year, the firm wrote: "It is alleged that you have been trading on your own account during your working hours and/or using our company van to do so. It is also alleged that you have been working in direct competition with us by trading with our existing customers or others that could reasonably be expected to be customers of ours if you were not trading with them. Your alleged behaviour ... constitutes a gross breach of trust and confidence."
The driver, who now works as a taxi driver, was dismissed in February after 19 years with the firm. The Tribunal ruled his dismissal was unfair as the bakery did not properly investigate the accusations against him and bosses were unclear of exactly what misconduct he was guilty. The driver was awarded £12,853, and the firm was also ordered to pay his Tribunal fees of £1,200.
Fired Postie Wins £10k
Daily Record - June 2003
A POSTIE won nearly £10,000 in compensation yesterday after being sacked for failing to deliver a letter on the day she learned her brother was seriously ill.
An Employment Tribunal ruled Laura McConnachie had been unfairly dismissed for not delivering a test letter which had been planted in her sack.
But Laura, 24, had just been told her brother might have meningitis before she set out on her round and claimed she must have dropped the letter.
She claimed she had delivered another letter to a house on the same street and would have had no reason not to take the test letter. But she was fired from her job as a postie at Shettleston delivery office in Glasgow for gross misconduct.
The Tribunal in the city heard a previous test letter had been planted on her round that hadn’t been delivered.
But the Tribunal found the matter had not been properly investigated and ordered the Royal Mail to pay Laura, of Dennistoun, Glasgow £9,804.
Laura, who now works in a biscuit factory, said, “I am ecstatic that I have won. I loved my job, and I would go back in a flash.”
Woman Wins Cash in Sacking Battle
Daily Express - March 2002
A CLEANING SUPPLIES ASSISTANT claiming sexual harassment yesterday alleged her boss said she only got the job because of the size of her chest. She claimed she had to endure a daily barrage of disgusting sexual comments, the mother of three, also claimed her manager groped her bottom and breasts and told her "You only got the job because you have big t**s."
The woman had taken her former employer to an Employment Tribunal claiming sex discrimination. She claims her manager touched her, made rude and suggestive comments, and stared at her chest. The woman broke down in tears as she told the Tribunal her manager would laugh at her, making her feel "very small and humiliated." She added, "He made derogatory comments that reduced me to tears."
The woman quit her job after only a few weeks in July last year because she could not take any more. She claimed the company should have been aware of what was going on as her manager had already been asked why they were going through so many female staff in the office.
The woman’s representative Gavin Booth said, “What she is complaining about should not happen to any female in the workplace.”
Princess Di Driver - Sex Pests Made My Life Hell!
Sun - March 2000
A CHAUFFEUR TO PRINCESS DIANA yesterday told how cruel bus driver colleagues branded her ‘pimple t**s.’ The pretty bus driver won an out-of-court settlement just days before she took her former employers to an Employment Tribunal.
She claimed she was sexually harassed by workmates after joining the bus firm. Last night she said, “I was bullied, slapped, humiliated and called names.” The former Army driver once chauffeured Princess Diana and Princess Anne as well as heads of state during her 8-year career with the Royal Corps of Transport. She left the Army after her fiancé was killed in an IRA bomb attack.
She accused male drivers of using disgusting comments including, ‘lazy bitch’ and ‘what she needs is a good s***.’ The woman who had to have counselling after her ordeal said, “There’s a difference between banter and deliberate harassment, they just went too far, and I felt unable to work again.”
Gavin Booth, who represented her, said, “a lot of employers would not get themselves into this position if they had an equal opportunities policy in place.”
Woman Wins Employment Tribunal Claim
Scotsman - March 2000
A WOMAN WHO CLAIMED she was sacked while sick with postnatal depression was awarded a four-figure sum by an Employment Tribunal. She was told she was to be made redundant from her job as a bookkeeper after the firm’s Bank advised it to appoint a chartered accountant. She had planned to return to work after the birth of her baby but suffered from postnatal depression and was off work for the next three months.
The company denied she was unfairly dismissed or subjected to sexual discrimination. The Tribunal ruled that to consult when changes had been made was a fait accompliat and said, “We believe that the primary reason for her selection for redundancy was the fact that she was not present for work over a critical period of time, her absence was due to a pregnancy-related reason.”
Cash for Woman in Sacking Battle
Cumbernauld News - August 1999
AN EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL AWARDED a woman who claimed she was unfairly dismissed when she was made redundant a four-figure sum. The 47-year old worked for a telephone equipment company in Airdrie before it went into receivership. She claimed the company had agreed that any redundancies would be on a last-in-first-out basis. Workers had agreed to cut costs to safeguard the future of the company, but after it failed to win the agreement of its financial brokers, the company went into receivership.
The woman was one of around 100 out of 500 workers who were called to a meeting and told to pack and leave immediately. They were to consider themselves redundant with immediate effect. The Tribunal ruled that her dismissal was clearly unfair, that there was no consultation, no explanation for her selection for redundancy and no right of appeal.
Dyslexic Fights to Protect Fellow Sufferers
Daily Mail - September 1999
A MAN WITH DYSLEXIA has launched a unique legal action in a bid to protect other sufferers from discrimination at work. He claims he was told he was ‘thick’ when he worked as a driver for a double glazing firm. Now in a test case that could have implications for employers as well as other victims of word blindness, he is seeking compensation for discrimination.
Lawyers for the company will argue at an Employment Tribunal that dyslexia is not covered by the Disability Discrimination Act. But Gavin Booth, who represents the Applicant, said, “the Act came into force in 1995 so there is little precedent for this. It is the first case of its kind.”