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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 46765
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have been suspended whilst my employer investigates

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I have been suspended whilst my employer investigates accusation of bullying and harassment. A lot of the accusations regard to how I spoke to someone when asking them about situations that needed dealt with. For instance asking them to stop what they are doing and deal with something else which has higher priority. Them thinking I'm setting them up to fail. If I am not intentionally "harassing" can I still be fired for gross misconduct?
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Sorry, didn't realise on US site. I'm in Scotland
JA: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?
Customer: Full time
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

How long have you worked there for?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
2.5 years next week

Thanks I will reply later this eve as I'm just working through a short queue of queries now

Thanks for your patience. The issue with harassment is that it does not have to be intentional on your part to amount to harassment in law. Sometimes the alleged harasser does not even know that their actions amount to bullying or harassment, but what matters most is the victim’s perception and whether they feel harassed under the circumstances.

Saying that, the lack of any intent on your part could potentially reduce the seriousness of the offence. So whilst there is still harassment at play, as it is not intentional that could potentially remove the gross misconduct nature and whilst still leaving a disciplinary offence, not necessarily one that would result in dismissal.

It also depends on what the employer’s investigation finds. You may say that it was not intentional but the employer does not automatically know this and may not easily determine if that was the case or not. So they will have to make a decision based on the outcome of the investigation and if they genuinely believe that you did this intentionally they can potentially use that in their decision. Therefore, the fact that it was not intentional, does not guarantee that the employer will also agree and accept that, especially when there is unlikely to be any independent evidence to back that up – it would basically be your case that this was what happened.

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss what I expected of the employer to ensure a fair disciplinary procedure is followed. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a quick second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Okay thanks. Is there also a time limit of when incidents can be investigated e.g if accuser is bringing up events that happened 6/7 months ago during which time I was going through extremely difficult time in personal life which employer is aware of can this still be used against me. Its apparent that the employer knew there was an issue but have not spoken to me about it to give me an opportunity to improve things.

In a disciplinary event, the employer should deal with any allegations without unreasonable delay. When there are delays in bringing up any complaints or pursuing disciplinary action it would depend on what the reasons for the delay are when considering if it was an unreasonable delay or not. For example, an incident may have happened 6/7 months ago and the reasons for not being brought to the employer’s attention until now could be because the victim was scared or intimidated from doing so, then that could be an excusable delay. If the employer knew of these issues at the time but did nothing and are only bringing them up now because there have been ongoing complaints then that can also be excused. However, if these were isolated incidents at the time and nothing was done all that time, that could likely be challenged.

Does this clarify matters for you?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
that's fine

you are welcome

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