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12-05-2015

A common employee ploy is to raise a grievance midway through a disciplinary procedure to try and delay the investigation or the outcome. This gives the employee breathing space and secures their income for a while longer.

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It is not that unusual for employees to raise grievances against those managers directly involved with the disciplinary issue, alleging for example, discrimination or victimisation. The employer is then in a dilemma. Does it delay the disciplinary hearing in order to investigate the grievance or does it just plough on?

The case of Jinadu v Dockland Buses rejected a claim by an employee that her dismissal was unfair because the employer had completed her disciplinary proceedings without first investigating the grievances she had raised.

The employee, a bus driver, was subject to a disciplinary hearing for bad driving. The employee made a number of allegations against some of the managers involved. The employer continued with the disciplinary proceedings and dismissed the employee.

The employee claimed in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that her grievances should have been dealt with first. The EAT disagreed.

Before employers celebrate, every case will be fact dependant. Here the decision maker was independent and not implicated by the employee’s complaints. If the grievances could have a direct bearing on the disciplinary issues then in most cases they ought to be investigated, or steps taken to mitigate against their impact, before the disciplinary hearing is completed.

Sometimes when examined, the grievances have no actual relation to the disciplinary matters in question, or the decision makers involved. In these circumstances the disciplinary hearing can proceed as normal.

If the employee raises a complaint against someone directly involved in the disciplinary process, such that it could be said to have an effect on the fairness, then consider appointing someone who has had no involvement with the investigation nor the employee, to deal with the disciplinary matter.

 

This is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.

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