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Jenny McKenzie
Jenny McKenzie,
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5072
Experience:  10 Years of experience in Employment Law and HR
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Dismissed for Harassing someone based on their country of

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Dismissed for 'Harassing someone based on their country of origin' . I was a supervisor of 20 betting shops - position held for over 2 1/2 years. Clean Disciplinary history, active member of regional management team with a history of supporting/promoting team members. It was accused by two employees that in a 20 min conversation I made remarks about one of the employees going on vacation to Republic of Congo. The alleged comments are 'You would only need a tent and insect repellant' in response to a comment made about clothes shopping. And an allegation that when the accusing employee accused Western Companies of being responsible for corruption in that country I responded in a southern texan accent "It wasn't me or my Daddies Fault". Both employees present were interviewed an their version of events varied in at least 12 different areas, including alleged sequence of conversation, phrases used, reactions, and how conversation started/finished. I was interviewed about allegation and suspended. During investigation meeting I refuted outright the allegations and gave my version of events about conversation, which resulted in 3 distinct versions of the same conversation. No further investigation was conducted after my interview. I was refused permission by HR to introduce evidence from my management team (who are all of differing ethnic backgrounds) as to my management style and that they had not experienced any racially motivated behaviour from me in the time they had worked for me. Investigation notes from interviews were incomplete, not signed off, not offered for reading or correction and did not represent a solid thorough investigation. Disciplining Manager was mentor of investigating Mgr when he joined company, he dismissed my in under 1 hr, stating that he believed I was guilty and that even though there were substantial differences in statements there were also 3 areas of similarity which was enough for him to dismiss on. The alleged interraction took place in an area covered by decent quality CCTV - which could have been used to establish positioning during conversation, facial reactions (it is alleged that the comments caused shock and distress)- but despite being raised by me during my investigation meeting, company refused to view that evidence, and during disciplinary stated that it was not relevant evidence - even though it is readily available and used in almost every investigation conducted in the company regarding allegations which can be substantiated/refuted by using it. Dismissed 12th April 2013 - finally got confirmation letter 2 weeks later and now scheduled for 1st level appeal on 21st May. What should main thrust of appeal be ?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer, I assume you did not make these statements? We're there any other witnesses?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There was the person who made the allegation, who incidentally I had promoted three months earlier to a management position and who i saw three or four times a week - mostly when she was working on her own - so if i had any inclination to harass her it would have been then - but no such thing has been alleged. Other person who was working with her was a person who had a formal warning from me a month earlier for absence from work. So the company has dismissed me based on these two statements and no other evidence.
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 1 year ago.
Ok is there any truth in the allegations?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
None whatsoever - I find the first comment about tents and insect repellant to be something that I would not bring into a conversation, as I have very little knowledge of the country being discussed, and the person I am talking to is not loud or jokey etc, so would not be part of my conversation, the seconf alleged phrase about 'not me nor my daddy' I find offensive and disrespectful . I have a military upbringing and my Father was always a figure of respect. Also I have no history either with same level colleagues or junior management colleagues of either using a southern texan type drawl or phrases similar or related to this. Every one of my 5 person management team was from a different ethnic/cultural background, as was at least 60% of the total amount of employees in my group of shops - and not a single other allegation or suggestion of racist behaviour/bullying or indeed anything even slightly inappropriate has been raised with me, subject to any form of grievance or investigation. In fact amongst my same level colleagues I had a reputation for most of the time being too nice with the way in which I dealt with disciplinary matters etc - preferring to give additional chances, allowing my junior management team to deal with more matters locally than my colleagues etc. And my main contention is that I would not suddnely become racist overnight, and if I was going to do it at all I would have picked a time when an employee was working alone to do it - not that I would even contemplate it. The witness statements taken by my line manager are shoddy, do not explore everything in detail, contain a large amount of variations in fact /sequence and perception - all of which they appear to have not taken into account at all. That combined with the outright refusal by HR for me to have witness statements by my management team just seems to make this whole thing as unfair as it could possibly be. And to me - If I had conducted either an investigatin or disciplinary in this manner I would expect someone from HR to be questioning me quite closely about my motives/professionalism. It might also be relevant that the company also announced that our level of management was up for review this year - and indeed just before I was dismissed it was announced that my management level were going on 90 days notice pending review of position and suitability for taking on a new role in July/August - resulting in at least a 40% reduction in number of employees holding this position.
Expert:  Jenny McKenzie replied 1 year ago.
Hello and sorry for the delay. On the basis of what you say you should appeal and claim unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal. The employer needs to show that it has followed a fair investigation process and that it has reasonable belief that you have committed the alleged offense. If it cannot do so then you will succeed in an unfair dismissal claim.

In addition it must show that there is not another reason for dismissal. On the basis of what you say it can be argued that they have dismissed you to avoid making you redundant and potentially to avoid a significant payout for redundancy in the future.

if you have any further questions please do ask. If I have answered your question I would be grateful if you would give a positive rating.

Thank you and all the best.
Jenny McKenzie,
Satisfied Customers: 5072
Experience: 10 Years of experience in Employment Law and HR
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