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to think that this disciplinary hearing for a colleague I am assisting has been badly handled.

(23 Posts)
thecaptaincrocfamily Tue 06-Sep-11 23:37:07

The guy in question is a colleague in a supermarket (not health visiting!). He is of an older generation mid fifties and thinks he is Benny Hill, sexual inuendos which by todays standards are riskee. He is otherwise a really lovely man and has never crossed the boundaries with me. He is a checkout operator. He has lots of personal problems and is very depressed and has admitted not taking his medication.
A customer complained following what he thought was a funny childhood story about his malehood falling off, customer was not amused even though he had warned her it was slightly rude and asked 'shall I go on' and she had said ok.
I have tonight found out that another customer several weeks ago had had a discreet word in a supervisors ear regarding his inuendo but she was not offended. The employee was never summond to discuss this. AIBU to think that the supervisor should have brought this to his attention and that this would probably never had lead to a disciplinary if the other comment had been addressed at that time?
Need an opinion from an employment law specialist if possible as they are disciplining for gross misconduct.

slavetofilofax Tue 06-Sep-11 23:40:39

I know nothing about the law, but it does sound like this guy is in the wrong job. His multiple mistakes seem much bigger than his supervisors one possible mistake.

aldiwhore Tue 06-Sep-11 23:40:56

Sorry not a specialist but its been very badly handled by the sound of it.

WoofToYouTooLady Tue 06-Sep-11 23:41:58

why are you assisting the colleague?

thecaptaincrocfamily Tue 06-Sep-11 23:43:42

I have to add that he had a letter written in specifically about how helpful he was only two months ago and was employee of the month.

ll31 Tue 06-Sep-11 23:45:33

I'd think that if there was complaint that someone should have spoken to him about it so yanbu

thecaptaincrocfamily Tue 06-Sep-11 23:45:42

I am assisting him only in support, not defence (of which there is none) and he asked for me to go with him. I asked him this and he said because I am discreet and the most educated of the colleagues he knows well. We also went on induction together.

MadamDeathstare Tue 06-Sep-11 23:47:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thecaptaincrocfamily Tue 06-Sep-11 23:52:38

thanks madamdeathstare, I think I feel that he has been very stupid to make such comments but I think if the supervisor had took him to one side and spoken to him he would have realised that some customers could be offended. He is ex military and I think he forgets that it isn't like having a conversation with the boys. He was also brought up in a houseful of very liberal women. I don't condone his behaviour and have told him in no uncertain terms that he has to stop this. Damage limitation really. I feel sorry for him because of his circumstances and know he would crumble if he lost his job.

MadamDeathstare Tue 06-Sep-11 23:59:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mothiman Wed 07-Sep-11 00:06:36

have you tried putting this in the employment issues section? sometimes people with some legal experience seem to help out there.

thecaptaincrocfamily Wed 07-Sep-11 00:09:21

No he didn't know that the first comment had been made until I said about it tonight on the phone because I asked him several times earlier whether he had ever been told about this kind of thing before - no. If he had then he would have changed his behaviour iyswim and was really upset that the supervisor hadn't told him. I had a coffee with him after the first hearing this afternoon and neither of us knew this. Then because of what he told me during the coffee I went back to speak to personnel but found the duty manager in the office and personnel had gone home, we talked about his fragile mental state and the praising letter which we would like for the hearing, it was only then that this fact surfaced.

thecaptaincrocfamily Wed 07-Sep-11 00:10:45

By the fact that the supervisor didn't raise it one could assume that he didn't view it as serious confused

garlicnutter Wed 07-Sep-11 00:28:23

I am not an expert either.
I'm surprised they've taken this straight to disciplinary, as a verbal then a written warning would seem more appropriate.

Check your employer's written code of conduct if you haven't already. Dodgy banter doesn't sound like instant gross misconduct to me but, as you're in a public service role, there may be extra provisions. (A bloke at work was given a verbal warning for grabbing my tits - but that was a different environment.)

Was your employer already aware of your friend's personal circumstances? If so, they have special responsibilities to him but he also has responsibilities to manage his medication.

Depending on what your experts say, I'd suggest raising the depression issue (he should undertake to take his meds and see his doctor regularly), recalling the written customer praise and recent award, offering a personal apology to the customer and - since no warnings were given - asking for this procedure to be counted as a verbal warning in the event of further offences (which will not happen, obv.) If your company provides training courses, they should send him on an appropriate one.

I feel sorry for him. Good luck!

LovelyCuppa Wed 07-Sep-11 01:06:30

You can't give a verbal or written warning without holding a disciplinary first! How would someone defend themself? That's what a disciplinary hearing is for.

OP, do you have any reason to think your employer is going to give him more than a verbal or written warning as an outcome to the disciplinary?

garlicnutter Wed 07-Sep-11 01:10:22

Oh, I thought gross misconduct meant one strike and you're out. My mistake.

LovelyCuppa Wed 07-Sep-11 01:26:14

Wasn't picking on you Garlic other people said similar. When it comes to gross misconduct, like any kind of misconduct, it depends what it is and if there are any mitgating circumstances (sounds like there are a few in this case). There will also be an opportunity to appeal the decision later if it is thought to be too harsh.

For example, dishonesty is often cited as gross misconduct. However, there's a big difference between stealing the contents of the safe and saying you won't be in until 11am because you have a dentist appointment when it's actually a pregnancy scan. Technically both are being dishonest and both are gross misconduct but you'd treat each very differently.

In the situation the OP describes what her colleague should be doing is apologizing and promising never to do it again and demonstrating that he understands it is inappropriate and why. He should describe the mitgating circumstances of depression and medication and also mention that if the earlier incident where the supervisor was notified had been brought to his attention he would never have said what he did. This will make no difference to the decision - he is clearly in the wrong - but it might make a difference to the warning given. Where I've worked in the past (customer facing, service industry) a member of staff speaking to a customer like that would usually be a final written warning so if he did it again he'd be out due to the seriousness and the potential damage to the company's reputation. However, in the circumstances described I might lean more towards giving him a written or even a verbal warning. But probably a written because it is a big deal in supermarkets.

PerryCombover Wed 07-Sep-11 01:28:35

They hold a disciplinary and make him aware that a possible sanction is gross misconduct.
The thing is a customer doesn't regale a supervisor with a tale unless they were offended at least a little and then there has been another complaint.
I think it is reasonable for them to investigate and ask his side of what happened.
Lets hope he finds something a bit more suitable for him in the organisation or they retrain him into the modern day

LovelyCuppa Wed 07-Sep-11 01:46:57

Gross misconduct isn't a sanction it's a catorgisation of deviant behaviour. The action taken once deviant behaviour has been established is the sanction. This is usually a warning; sometimes dismissal in very serious cases. So, it's perfectly possible that this man has had a letter inviting him to disciplinary, explaining that the reason is XXXX that he said to a customer which is gross misconduct as outlined in YYYYYY policy and that a potential outcome of the disciplinary could be dismissal. That doesn't mean he will be dismissed and unless there's been any talk of dismissal outside of the formal letters and introductions where it has to be mentioned I would suspect they are planning a less harsh disciplinary action.

Sometimes it's appropriate to taken no disciplinary action and put training or other support in place instead. This doesn't look like one of those times unfortunately. "Don't make sexual references when serving customers" shouldn't need to be spelt out on a course.

LovelyCuppa Wed 07-Sep-11 01:47:45

catorgisation? catagorisation blush

MadamDeathstare Wed 07-Sep-11 02:12:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mitmoo Wed 07-Sep-11 05:38:21

lovely cuppa has said everything I would have, she's spot on.

thecaptaincrocfamily Wed 07-Sep-11 12:12:53

Thanks lovelycuppa, I have advised him exactly as you have described and told him to prepare his case exactly as you have said. I am relieved that I have done as others would because I would have hated to steer him into a worse position. I think my main question is whether we should raise the previous informal complaint which wasn't addressed because if it had been then maybe the second would not have arisen? or is it likely to be made worse in that he now has 2 complaints as opposed to this one? confused. I just want to get it right for him and need guidance because I haven't been with someone to a disciplinary before, although I have attended numerous CP meetings addressing serious issues iyswim.

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