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About my dismissal

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Jackspeak, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. 2 things- firstly- I was placed in a position where I had to raise concern about bullying and harassment at school and the union executive rep, did not seek to properly resolve the matter. I was then accused of misconduct and then accused of a further misconduct and then another misconduct - all within just two months of my initial complaint. I was later dismissed. The union supports a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal but will not review my initial complaint even though further strong evidence came to light that would clearly support it. Legal representation -under the terms of the union, will not permit me to produce my own witness statement. The grievance I sent to the school has neither been supported by the union of responded to by the school. I know people out there are wise to things. I do not understand why the union will not support my grievance and they refuse to answer any more questions about why this is so. It seems that I'm being silenced. Could it be that I am being silenced? Later events show that had the union acted with greater concern about my complaint, it could have helped many others at the school. The school reps do not seem willing to put their heads above the parapet!
     
  2. 2 things- firstly- I was placed in a position where I had to raise concern about bullying and harassment at school and the union executive rep, did not seek to properly resolve the matter. I was then accused of misconduct and then accused of a further misconduct and then another misconduct - all within just two months of my initial complaint. I was later dismissed. The union supports a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal but will not review my initial complaint even though further strong evidence came to light that would clearly support it. Legal representation -under the terms of the union, will not permit me to produce my own witness statement. The grievance I sent to the school has neither been supported by the union of responded to by the school. I know people out there are wise to things. I do not understand why the union will not support my grievance and they refuse to answer any more questions about why this is so. It seems that I'm being silenced. Could it be that I am being silenced? Later events show that had the union acted with greater concern about my complaint, it could have helped many others at the school. The school reps do not seem willing to put their heads above the parapet!
     
  3. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Lead commenter

    Surely your union is involved at regional level?
     
  4. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I am not really sure what question you want answering here and it is difficult to offer any answers without details....
    The important thing now, and the focus of the support being offered you, is regarding your claim for unfair dismissal, and while I may not give you your job back any claim for compensation may be hampered by pursuing the grievance. Typically in cases of this nature it is the method of raising the grievance that leads to misconduct allegation and not the content of the grievance itself.
     
  5. Daisy, would you (or anybody) be able to explain a little bit more about what you mean here?
    I really feel that I have been bullied out of my job and I was just extremely lucky in that I managed to get another position quite soon. If I hadn't, I really think I'd probably have been seriously contemplating ending my life. This has all had a horrific effect on me: I just can't stop thinking about it.
    Anyway, I suppose my question is what the options are to somebody who is quite clearly being persecuted and victimised, time and time again. The unions (at regional level) seem quite bland and detached about it and yet so many of us are under severe stress because of our working conditions that it just doesn't seem right. I never thought I'd be a teacher who would have to take time off with stress but I can't imagine possibly going back to the school for the two weeks I have left in which to work my notice.
     
  6. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I don't know what the OPs misconduct allegations amount to - but often in similar cases (and I am working in the dark on guess work from what has been written here) a staff member with a greivance, valid or not, may end up with allegations of misconduct for not following the schools, or local authority policy or greivance procedure, but instead say, going direct to the press or similar, thus throwing the focus onto their misconduct rather than addressing the issue they wanted to raise.
     
  7. I see - so in other words the grievance the member of staff takes in itself shouldn't lead to allegations of misconduct?
    I've been advised against taking out a grievance and that's fine but it does seem that therefore there are really no other options as all the options assume you are dealing with reasonable kind people who don't want to set you up to fail.
     
  8. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    The nature of a 'grievance' is that you are effectively shining a bright spotlight on something you feel is being done wrong, or someone who is doing something wrong or incorrectly. My advice to anyone considering taking out a grievance procedure is to make sure that they are squeaky clean themselves - because indeed raising a grievance against someone else will result in spotlights falling on you. In simple terms, if you are in the glass house, don't throw the stones...

    Not raising a grievance correctly or going through the correct channels can indeed result in allegations of misconduct.
     
  9. Thanks for replies guys. Happyrabbit knows this experience and I believe it needs to be understtod that bullying in the teaching profession is not just about incidents behind a closed door involving small groups of people. In teaching, it can start to extend to a much wider and more public domain. Withdrawal of support and humiliation is being carried out in front of a large audience. This creates potential for the teacher to become a target, not just for SLT, but other colleagues, parents and pupils in the classroom, particularly if they feel under pressure or are so disposed. It is indeed stressful and can involve character assassination. In my situation I was so stressed after yet another occasion of being publicly criticised and not supported, I was sent to OH. My doctor insisted a meeting about incidents of bullying with my union and the school, because there was nothing else wrong with my health. The union required that I write an account of all previous incidents which I duly did. When we eventually had a meeting, with the union apparently reluctant to attend, the rep suggested I hand this document to the managers of the situation. It was a spur of the moment suggestion and I did it in good faith. It was not a grievance at that time. Soon afterwards the allegations started. Later when it got to a disciplinary hearing, I wanted to include the document ( of notes actually!) as a grievance. The union would not support it and have never explained to me why. Before appealing against the dismissal, I decided to submit the grievance which I did without guidance.. Although the grievance was acknowledged, it has been ignored and the union still also ignores the fact that the school fail to provide a response. As I pointed out in previous entry, the union supports a claim for unfair dismissal but will not let me put forward my own witness statement. One explanation I have had is that a claim about bullying needs to be a collective response involving several employees, if it is to go anywhere. Initially I appeared to be an isolated victim, but it later transpires that others have come forward with complaints ( not to the union) and the school has been forced to change it's policy regarding pupil discipline and staff support. I believe this vindicates my grievance and reason I had for putting it forward. I don't understand the unions position. I don't think it should be ignored and believe it is an important part of my witness statement. Thanks Daisylot, you seem to have experience in this area and your advice is appreciated.
     
  10. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I have information to add to this thread. Unfortunately OH is working on the PC and I can't answer on a smartphone. Will respond when I am able tomorrow morning.
     
  11. Thank you Gardening Leaves
     
  12. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I don't know how long it will take me to respond to your queries, Jackspeak. I need to go out in half an hour and it may be that I have to do this in two halves, so bear with me.
    I wanted to respond because I have additional information for you but, also, I am concerned that information you have already been given is incomplete and, in some places inaccurate.
    You say you first 'raised concern' about bullying and harassment in the school. I am not clear whether you raised this as a grievance at that point or as a 'whistle-blower'. After that, three separate allegations of misconduct were made against you within two months, which led to your dismissal.
    As I understand it, the union is supporting your claim for unfair dismissal but is not including within that a claim that your original disclosure led to it. Victimisation following whistle-blowing is grounds for a judgment of automatic unfair dismissal, providing your disclosures were protected and qualifying under the 1996 Employment Rights Act. To be protected and qualifying, you will have to have disclosed substantial detail of (in gerneral terms) law-breaking. (That does include Employment Law and negligence, so bullying could qualify.) If this is the case, damages for being unfairly dismissed on such grounds are potentially unlimited, so it is important that the union considers this, if it is an option.
    You need to make contact with an organisation called Public Concern at Work www.pcaw.org.uk. They are the experts in whistle-blowing (assisted in drafting the legislation) and can give you very specific (free!) legal advice about your specific situation. Their legal experts will also work with your union's solicitors, if you can persuade the union, on this specific area of the law.
    I have other bits of information regarding union engagement, your grievance and bullying legislation in general, but will have to come back to that later.
     
  13. Thank you - great advice. I have been in touch with the whistle blower site and definitely looking into this. I was also interested to discover that there's an organisation you can take complaints about unions to, if you feel the need. At the moment the union solicitor is instructed by the union rather than the complainant.
    At the time I simply cooperated with union advice and wanted to solve the issues. When I handed in the complaint, I believed I was an isolated victim. It now appears that others were also very unsupported and afraid to speak up. Now they have done and I believe it helps my complaint. The school and the union did not resolve the matter for me and I was then prevented from returning to OH to make any further appeal. I think the union could have arranged a way out for me, like a compromise agreement. Even though redundancies came up and I asked the union about volunteering, I got no response and I was immediately suspended by the school.
     
  14. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    Yes, you are right. I also naively thought the union's solicitor was representing me but the solicitor's client is the union, not the member. The solicitor acts in the union's interest, not the members. We looked into making a complaint of professional negligence against my union's solicitors, over a spectacular ****-up in the preparation of my claim. I even employed one of the best workplace bullying legal experts in the country to advise and support them and they ignored his advice and offer of assistance.
    The relationship between teaching unions are workplace bullying is an interesting one. Unions' legal teams do not seem to have kept up with recent legislation and case-law and do not offer their members access to the range of support that is available. Unions will take personal injury cases to court for members. However, a Freedom of Information request has revealed that not one single teaching union has EVER taken a case to court under the protection from Harassment Act for a member. This is potentially a very useful piece of legislation because, apart from anything else, it is not necessary to prove that psychological injury has taken place to successfully bring a claim.
    It is probably fair to say that most teachers join a union for the 'legal protection' offered. The small print of my union says that it will provide its members with 'the best legal advice'. Others are more vague about what they will actually offer. There does appear to be great disparity between the options offered by union lawyers and what is possible for a good employment specialist to achieve. It should not be that way. It is not surprising that school-based reps are completely out of their depth when their unions' lawyers are unwilling to engage fully with the anti-bullying agenda. Legislation and case-law in respect of workplace bullying is still quite young, but that is still no excuse for them to limit their support to narrow unfair dismissal proceedings or compromise agreements.
    Turning to your grievance, disciplinary procedures typically include a statement to the effect that a grievance cannot be used to circumvent legitimate disciplinary proceedures. However, they also include a second clause that states that a grievance can be heard if the focus of the grievance are legitimate concerns about the conduct of the disciplinary process. You will know whether or not this may apply in your circumstances. There is a Code of Practice, CP1, which is the principal guide to what will be regarded as procedural fairness. It gives the elements of a grievance Procedure as:
    • the employee writes to the employer, informing him of the grievance;
    • the employer invites the employee to a formal meeting to discuss it;
    • the employer must permit the employee to be accompanied;
    • the employer must decide on appropriate action to resolve the grievance;
    • the employer must provide an opportunity for the employee to appeal;
    • the employer must permit the employee to be accompanied to th appeal;
    • the employer must write to the employee informing him of the outcome.
    Although CP1 is not strictly speaking legally binding it has considerable legal significance. s207A Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 gives the Employment Tribunal the power to increase or decrease damages by up to 25% if the employer or employee has failed to comply with CP1.
    Once again, only you know the specific detail of your particular case. However, if these circumstances seem appropriate in your case, once again the union may be doing you a disservice if they are not taking this into account in your unfair dismissal ET.
    In addition to this information, I have sent you a private message.
     
  15. I'm sorry Daisy but, if I understand you correctly, this is not accurate. On the contrary, if anyone goes to an ET and claims they have been mistreated, the Tribunal will almost certainly throw the case out unless it can be shown that the complainant tried to pursue a resolution through the school's internal proceedings - which normally means a grievance procedure.
     
  16. Excellent advice from GL, Jackspeak. You may safely ignore less well-informed advice
     
  17. phatsals

    phatsals Occasional commenter

    I believe the need to prove a Formal Grievance before going to an Industrial Tribunal was abandoned 2 or 3 years ago.
     
  18. What would be an example of somebody taking out a grievance? x
     
  19. The current position is that employers and employees should always seek to resolve disciplinary and grievance issues in the workplace. Judicial proceedings (which is what ETs represent) will always ask if internal proceedings were pursued. Mediation is recommended wherever possible. Any teacher who tries to use ETs as an alternative to grievance proceedings is on a hiding to nothing. For definitive advice see
    http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/6/6/Acas-Guide-on-discipline-and-grievances-at-work-March-2011.pdf
     
  20. Thanks for this advice Iconoclastic. My grievance has been ignored by all parties - union and school. They will not connect the disciplinary procedure with the grievance and treat them as two separate issues. The grievance has not been responded to at all. I want them linked because evidence came to light that gives more weight to the cause of my grievance and I believe that is why I was treated harshly in the disciplinary process.
     

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