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can someone be sacked just because they don't get on with colleagues?

(31 Posts)
beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:04:14

Sorry it may be a very stupid question (and a long post) but as I'm self-employed I have no idea what is considered 'unfair dismissal' nowadays.
A friend has fallen out with several people at work (not a large co, about 30 employees) and in their eyes has been agressive (told another manager that she didn't respect her, had a row with another head of dept), yet she holds a key post in the company and the boss relies on her a lot.
But she is not happy with most things now (used to be different) and everyone can see this which causes an atmosphere. The boss seems to be playing cat and mouse a bit - he recently let her down by doing something major without consulting her which he should have done - cue friend being very furious for couple of weeks and telling home truths etc but then the boss was all apologetic and saying how important she was and a key worker (she does do her immediate job extremely well). Otoh boss defended others and never going to sack them or really tell them off which my friend wanted him to do.
It's kind of obvious that they would like her to go, at least quite a few people in management do - it's just simpler than for them to make all the changes and staff changes that she is suggesting. It seems like the boss has let her down recently deliberately to piss her off, and maybe to prompt her leaving voluntarily but wants to appear like a good guy so is apologetic etc but possibly buying time to find a replacement - could this be because they can't sack her based on a few episodes of agressive behaviour?
Friend said that in the past the boss behaved in similar way towards someone and the person has left eventually (all the empty promises/cat and mouse). She said she won't leave until she finds a job to go to, so I assume she thinks she can't be dismissed for being 'troublesome' - is this the case?
She is very stressed and I just want to know the legal side as if they can't sack her, it would explain why they are ganging up on her a bit and the boss being a bit manipulative. If they did dismiss her, could she apply then to court for unfair dismissal?

M0rven Tue 15-Sep-15 01:07:11

How long has she worked there ?

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:08:39

about 5 yrs, not more anyway.

clarinsgirl Tue 15-Sep-15 01:11:14

Based on what you have said, if she was simply sacked without properly going through the disciplinary process then that may be considered unfair dismissal. However if her inability to work well with colleagues affects her performance then the company may well discipline her on the grounds of competence and ultimately that could end in dismissal.

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:15:11

see no, it doesn't affect her performance, if anythig it affects those she had rows with as they got upset.
What is the proper disciplinary process? It's not a very formal (i.e. a bank) co. It started as a family business but grew to a somewhat larger co yet they do have a high-ish profile in their (again, not a hugely regulated) field.

RockinHippy Tue 15-Sep-15 01:17:28

If this is genuinely what's going on & not just your friends interpretation of it, then after 5yrs it is what's known as "Constructive Dismissal"

That said, the aggressive behaviour towards several different people, does make me question just how stable your friend is, she sounds like she could be a bit of a liability & though not entirely legal, this could well be justified. Perhaps if she wants to keep her job she needs to remember how to work as part of a team

BerylStreep Tue 15-Sep-15 01:20:41

In my workplace, professional conduct is further defined as respecting and supporting your colleagues in the due execution of their role.

So if she is being aggressive I think there may well be a discipline or performance issue in terms of lack of professionalism.

I am not an expert though.

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:21:45

exactly, Rock, she has issues but I'm still being supportive as she worked so hard for the company. This is quite recent. I think she should go as she is constantly criticising everything in the company, and I did say that isn't it easier for you to leave and find a better place instead of trying to convince the boss to make changes!
She may have a point about changes but she is not a boss and they don't have to follow her advice. The boss actually told her she needs to try and work with people but she hasn't reconciled, just not rowing as such anymore.
She says she may be sacked if she openly looks for a new job (by approaching people in charge at similar companies locally) - is this true? I was surprised to hear that this could be a valid reason.

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:27:17

Mainly, I just don't understand why they haven't given her notice so far (presonally I think she is better of going elsewhere as she is not happy), as the way she is trying to in charge and also disrespectful to others has rattled the whole place. I'm wondering if this is some long game (not sacking her) because they have no right to, and are just hoping she will go anyway? She says her job is completely safe (until and if she finds another) but I think she may be mistaken.

clarinsgirl Tue 15-Sep-15 01:28:39

The disciplinary process is whatever is defined by the company policy. Usually a step by step process starting with a verbal then written warning followed by a final written warning before dismissal.

Her performance will be affected, you can't work in isolation and that fact that she has been aggressive with several colleagues means she will be less effective. Most companies also have an harassment/ bullying policy and breaching this can constitute gross misconduct which will mean instant dismissal.

Tiggeryoubastard Tue 15-Sep-15 01:31:29

She sounds a liability. Yes, they can get rid of someone disruptive, argumentative and aggressive. In fact, they'd be wrong not to do so. Actually, she sounds a twat.

clarinsgirl Tue 15-Sep-15 01:36:24

The company's failure to sack her may not be a calculated move. Many companies who have legitimate reasons for dismissing someone don't do it because it's a Job very few people like doing and they fear litigation.

Your friend's belief that she is safe is misguided. She has refused a reasonable request (to reconcile) and is continuing to make life difficult for everyone else.

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:36:46

clarins thank you - but they haven't instantly dismissed her though it sounds like they could have done (based on your bullying policy comment). Two managers comp;ained to the boss about agression but he didn't dismiss.

Otoh the boss has done something underhand that left her reeling for couple of weeks - she's now calmed down a bit as he was all aplogetic but to me it's obvious he knew she would be furious. So instead of dismissing he tries to push her I think - possibly it's not to do with legal stuff but just him trying to appear not at fault/keep a nice guy image?

The nature of her role is somewhat separate from others, and involves also physical work which involves no other managers while she is very good at, and some local travel so she can keep her distance.

MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 15-Sep-15 01:37:08

But being aggressive is absolutely not doing her job properly and therefore is indeed a sackable offense.

You seem to be thinking that she can behave any which way she wants as long as she 'does her job', but that's really not the case as professionalism, team working, being either a good manager or manageable, manner, politeness, work ethic etc is all part and parcel of a job. There also is that get out clause 'breakdown of trust/ working relationship' and 'professional incompetence' type stuff as well.

So if suggest to your friend that she's treading on very thin ice, and is laying herself open to losing her job. From what you've described she's not working in a terribly professional company but she's actually handing them legal ways to get rid of her! As tends to be the way with small company's with bad company cultures they may well ignore the professional and legal way to get rid of her and behave badly themselves, like firing someone for going to job interviews etc which is not at all legal, but that doesn't make her immune in the meantime, or likely to win in the grand scheme of things anyway. By win I mean the sum total in an experience that would cause emotional & professional damage as well as any kind monetary pay out.

Btw it's sad but true that no one person can change a company culture from within, so she's wasting her time and energy plus creating friction and bad feeling at the same time.

She needs to move on asap!

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:41:08

Tigger, yes I can't say it to her face and I also understand that after working very hard she feels she's not being listened to, and then the trick her boss played on her - all that contributed and as a result she is behaving badly. She's now calmed down and isn't rowing anymore, clarins, but there is still atmosphere as she thinks she is right.
That's exactly my point though - you say the fear of litigation, so it means she could apply for unfair dismissal process if they sacked (i.e. despite all this, not enough solid reason to sack)? in which case not really mistaken?

clarinsgirl Tue 15-Sep-15 01:41:15

Absolutely Misc

clarinsgirl Tue 15-Sep-15 01:44:34

The fact that they haven't sacked her yet does not mean that they won't. She maybe just hasn't pushed them far enough yet. If she is still walking around thinking she is right and everyone else is wrong then it's only a matter of time before another incident.

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:48:09

MA, I agree with everything you say, I said to her she needs to move on as she is constantly complaining and feeling angry that they don't do enough. Plus it's unfair on others ( I don't know all details of their rows but 'i know that it's not on to declare lack of respect!).
I'm not saying that all is ok if she does her job well - I was responding to clarins who said her performance will be affected.
So is she right to worry about asking around for jobs? she seems to be extra careful and to find the right moment when no one can spot her at other companies so she hasn't done anything about it yet. If not illegal can they really sack for that? wasn't even formally applying, just chatting to other bosses who she already knows (not very closely). I'm trying to help her see the bigger picture and their motivation - she seems to think that the boss is scared of losing her, but I sort of want to open her eyes to it all. I think this is what's keeping her there - that boss values her so much (in her mind) and is running around her atm. As I say I think he is buying tiome for some reason.

BerylStreep Tue 15-Sep-15 01:50:38

If she is being so difficult perhaps they will be relieved that she is looking for something else.

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:55:06

yes I think she is vulnerable due to her own blind spots in this situation, clarins. I mean she is against the rest, even though works very hard. Ijust wanted to see what is the legal side and does she feel a bit smug because she thinks she would apply for unfair dismissal if sacked. Of course now she is careful not to escalate to rows again, but she does walk around thinking she knows best and others are 'useless'.
I basically don't understand the boss who is now fussing around her after upsetting her (and prompting the worst of the rows straight after that with others who were partly involved in that situation).

beaglesaresweet Tue 15-Sep-15 01:56:30

Beryl, I think she doesn't want any gaps in getting salary so is scared they might sack her for searching for another job.

BerylStreep Tue 15-Sep-15 02:06:21

There is one thing being constructively dismissed. It is entirely another going to a tribunal to prove it. From a different but similar experience (sexual harassment) I can advise the legal route takes years and is extremely stressful. Lawyers will do their utmost to twist facts, and even the slow pace and delays take their toll. It is true to say that I suffered extreme stress & depression directly as a result of legal action arising from workplace harassment. I won in the end. The bad behaviour was publicly acknowledged. But I lost about 4 years of my life as a result. Pyrrhic victory comes to mind.

clarinsgirl Tue 15-Sep-15 02:25:49

It may be helpful to remind her that future employers will ask for references. She needs to be more professional and get over herself.

Unfair / constructive dismissal is a bit of a red herring in this situation. It's not a case of fill in a form and collect your money. Far from it. And given the complaints against her I can't imagine she'd be in a strong position.

She sounds incredibly arrogant and likely to come unstuck. In your position I think I'd be advising my friend to climb down, accept that this job is not for her anymore, find something else and start behaving more professionally in the meantime.

I would also say that this has the potential to get really ugly so you need to be wary of getting too involved.

Stillunexpected Tue 15-Sep-15 08:56:20

Your friend sounds like a complete liability to the company. However, you say that she hasn't always been like this and has recently changed - what has caused the change? I also agree with others that being "good at her job" isn't sufficient defence against being fired from her job - anyhow how can she be good at her job if she is upsetting her colleagues and having complaints of aggression being made about her? She may get getting results in her area but I bet her job also requires teamwork, professionalism and dedication, all of which she is falling down on.

It sounds to me as if the company are giving her enough rope to hang herself until she does something sufficiently serious that they can fire her, without any costly payments or compromise agreements.

atticusclaw2 Tue 15-Sep-15 09:05:54

I'm sorry but she can certainly be dismissed for rude, aggressive, disruptive etc behaviour. She can either be dismissed following a misconduct route if she is doing it deliberately to disrupt or through a performance route if she's just generally not a nice person and its affecting her ability to work in a professional way with colleagues and customers (which it sounds like it most certainly is).

TBH she sounds like an entitled baby.

I'm an employment lawyer.

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