Employment Bulletin – October 2019

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Manager unfairly dismissed after locking customer in bank

A diabetic bank manager was discriminated against after being dismissed following an incident that saw him lock a customer in the branch.

The manager was employed by the bank for 14 years and worked his way up to manager.

However, due to his diabetes, he made numerous security errors including leaving the keys to the branch in the doors and even locking a customer in after closing time.

He was diagnosed with type two diabetes in 2017, and soon afterwards the company closed three nearby branches, which resulted in an increase of footfall traffic in the manager’s branch.

This meant the manager became unable to take breaks, which prevented him from being able to control his diabetes.

It left him often feeling confused, shaky, weak, hungry and lethargic, which led to his mistakes.

He was dismissed after an internal hearing found he had shown “serious disregard for well-documented and established procedures, despite recently completing training that covered exit procedures”.

He made a claim against the bank for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

He provided a report from his GP that emphasised the importance of avoiding drops and spikes in blood glucose levels. The GP also said the effects of diabetes are magnified by factors such as stress and irregular breaks.

The Employment Tribunal ruled in favour of the manager, although his actions were also found to have been 60% responsible for his dismissal.

He was awarded £49,457 for unfair dismissal, discriminatory dismissal and notice pay for wrongful dismissal.

 

NHS director ‘was not discriminated against’ over religious beliefs

An NHS director who was suspended after he made controversial comments based on his religious beliefs has failed with his discrimination claim.

The director was a non-executive director of an NHS and social care trust, and held a position as a lay magistrate in the family court.

He was a practising Christian and had strong views against same-sex couples being suitable adoptive parents. His fellow magistrates complained, and he was reprimanded for breaching his duty to decide adoption cases impartially.

The director aired his views in the media. The Trust asked him not to make any further public comments without informing it first, but the director continued to do interviews and alleged the magistracy had discriminated against him because of his religious beliefs.

The Trust suspended the director and decided against renewing his term, based on a concern that his actions could damage its ability to serve its LGBT patients. There were also fears that his actions were likely to negatively impact the confidence in the NHS of staff, patients and the public in general.

The director claimed the Trust had discriminated against him because of his religious beliefs.

However, the Employment Tribunal found that the Trust was entitled to suspend the director given the public comments he had made. The decision was not discriminatory as it was based on the way the director had acted in expressing his beliefs, and not based on his faith itself.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld that decision.

 

Study reveals extent of gender gap in director positions

Female executive directors stay in their roles for only half the amount of time as their male counterparts, according to a recent study.

It has led to accusations that some companies may be employing female directors for ‘symbolic’ reasons, rather than for their ability.

The 2019 Female FTSE Board Report, published by Cranfield University, studied women’s roles on the boards of FTSE 350 companies, as well as the roles of senior non-executive directors in FTSE 100 companies.

It showed that on average women stayed in executive directors’ roles for 3.3 years, while men stayed for 6.6 years.

There was a considerably smaller gap for non-executive directors, who are not involved in the day-to-day decision making.

Female non-executive directors stayed in the role for an average of 3.8 years, while 4.3 years was the figure for their male counterparts.

Dr Doyin Atewologun, who co-authored the report, said: “This begs the question of whether women are appointed to FTSE 100 boards for symbolic rather than substantive reasons.”

The report also showed that only 32 out of 297 (11%) female directors at FTSE 100 companies come from a BAME background.

Fiona Cannon OBE, group director for responsible business, sustainability and inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group urged companies to use the data to work towards creating a more inclusive environment.

She said: “Every month, we look at all the data to see whether women are leaving, whether they’re being promoted. The chief of staff and myself sit down and do it. It’s that relentless attention to detail that’s important, because it can so easily go the other way.

“Unless a CEO believes that’s really important for their business, nothing is going to happen.”

 

Pub manager was sexually harassed by ‘jovial’ co-worker

A pub manager has won a sexual harassment claim after a senior co-worker engaged in ‘poor taste humour’.

The Employment Tribunal judge said the case showed that a person’s dignity can be violated even when there is no ‘malicious intent’ on the part of the perpetrator.

Following an internal investigation, the employer decided there had been no malicious intent on the senior co-worker’s part and rejected the employee’s grievance.

However, the tribunal ruled that unwanted sexual innuendos could reasonably be perceived as a violation of a person’s dignity and creating a hostile work environment.

The employee was under pressure at the time of the events and had serious work to do to improve the fortunes of her pub.

The Judge said: “She had enough on her plate, and the last thing she needed were attempts at humour of that particular kind.”

The tribunal found that she had been sexually harassed and awarded her £5,000 compensation.