Discrimination, unsubstantiated allegations, bullying by employer...Put under undue pressure to sign settlement agreement(12 Posts)
I have recently had an horrendous experience with my former employer, which I believe if A less stronger person had experienced they might have topped themselves. The company employs between 10,000 & 20,000 employees within the UK and has been in the news recently regarding large redundancies. I put in a formal flexible working request following an informal request being rejected (all employees now have the right to request flexible working). My female colleague was given instant approval to change her hours informally ( I am male). My informal request was to basically work the same as my colleague, there was no business reason for it to be denied. For a couple of months my boss kept saying he would think about my informal request but this made me feel anxious every day I went to work. I was then accused by my boss of calling someone a name in the office, which I denied, I believed it was mistaken identity and was in fact my female colleague. I stated that I was being victimised by a group of new employees in the office. A few weeks after this I was given a letter for an invitation to an investigation hearing following a complaint about me. I believed this to be a different but I didn't know what it could be. I went off with stress, anxiety and depression because I couldn't take anymore. The company bullied me back to work by stopping my occupational sick pay and threatening disciplinary action due to not attending work even though I had a valid sick note from my GP. I had to go back to work but they wouldn't address any grievances I raised informally. I attended the hearing. My conversation history from the company messaging system had been downloaded following a complaint made by a colleague about my behaviour towards her. I have no idea, and they wouldn't tell me what this behaviour was. I didn't have anything to do with this person. They did say the complaint was closed off, but they said they had a duty to investigate my conversations anyway. There was some swearing in it but this related to how I was being treated with the working hours. It went to disciplinary but before the disciplinary the HR person refused to give any details of what my behaviour was. As far as I was concerned this was a fictious allegation that was causing me severe depression. This fictious allegation basically sparked off my exit from the company. I went off sick again and the disciplinary was postponed. In the meantime I was excluded from the aspiration process whilst redundancies were announced, I felt the outcome of any disciplinary had been predetermined. I submitted formal grievances whilst off sick. The company refused to address any grievance before a disciplinary. A settlement agreement was in discussion but they dismissed me in my absence whilst the discussions were in progress. They recalled my salary after I had received my payslip but I didn't Know I had been dismissed as I was advised by post. I didn't have any money. A week later the settlement was back on the table. I was trying to sort out the wages/sick pay out but they refused to sort it. I effectively got paid redundancy and notice but they owed me wages. I had no choice but to sign because I was already owed £4000 and neededthe money. I scanned my signature to solicitor but I haven't gone through the settlement agreement before signing. I'm now claiming JSA. I felt bullied by the company because when I tried to sort out my pay they said I wasn't getting any more money. I put in an appeal but felt all alone and that no one would listen. I feel I have been forced out of my job by one false accusation. I feel I have been victimised and bullied out of the company. Can I still go to a tribunal? I don't care if my settlement is breached. There is loads of things I've not been able to put on here.
I'm sorry to hear this. How long had you been with the company?
You would need to be with the company for 2 years to take a claim to court unless you feel that you were being discriminated against under one of the protected characteristics.
I was there 4 years, the issues dragged on for about 6 months
You certainly need some good legal advice, it sounds like constructive dismissal and/or having your arm twisted to sign documents against your will. Could Citizens Advice help possibly? Is there a union who could represent you? What about your pension?
In what way were you being victimised by other members of staff?
And in what way do you feel that you were discriminated against? Are you referring to the flexible working request or to other issues as well? What reasons were given by the company for declining your request?
Also, what reason was given for stopping your sick pay? Did this breach the terms of your contract?
My sick pay was stopped because I mixed up the time for an occupational health appointment. It was in the morning, but I thought it was in the afternoon. But I advised before the appointment in the afternoon that I couldn't make it, but they had already stopped my pay because I didn't attend the am appointment. It did breach the term of my contract but HR or line management wouldn't listen to me.
The flexible working request was the beginning of the issue, which became a snowballing effect and dragged me right down. There had been flexibility within the office but due to many new recruits we were told that we had to start working a fixed working day unless we had a valid reason not to. Valid reasons were caring or young children responsibilities. My reason for work/life balance was considered not a valid reason. This created a lot of unhappiness with existing employees. My informal request was rejected because I was told "if I give it to you I have to give it to everyone". I had been working 8 to 4 with half hour for lunch, but had to start working 8.30 to 5 with an hour for a lunch. My female colleague who had only just joined the company was allowed to leave at 4.30 and only have half hour lunch. My informal request was to work the same as my female colleague as we cross covered roles (finance). My manager said he would think about it, but never got back to me. After nearly 2 months I made a formal request letter but was too afraid to approach him to give him. I took the letter to work on the Monday but didn't give it to him til the Friday when he told me that someone had complained. I said I didn't know what he was talking about and that I was being victimised, I then gave him the letter. I didn't sleep over that weekend because I was worrying about what had been said. The following week I was led to believe that a group of new starts had caused the issue but I let it go. After a few weeks I had my meeting to discuss the flexible request. The hours on my formal request were slightly different to the original informal request, but the main change was to reduce lunch from an hour to half hour. I was told I could work the same as my female colleague, but further discussion would be needed. At the end of this meeting I challenged him regarding the comments that I was alleged to have said. He wouldn't give me any details of the alleged comments when. I asked him. The next day I was given a letter by HR inviting me to an investigation meeting, following a complaint about me. My conversations had been downloaded. At this stage I believed this was another complaint and not to the previous one. At this stage I was expected to go back into the office and carry on working. I went back in to the managers office and told him I can't work like this and I went home. From that point on, although I had A doctors note, HR and my manager made my life as difficult as possible.
I felt like the company was crushing me. There was no continuity or consistency with the HR employees I communicated with. I did not have one line communication, probably 5 HR people, 3 different Occ. Health people. Anything I said was dismissed, I felt like a fox in fox hunt, or like someone might feel on death row. Every time I felt I was going to get some help there was other motives.
Officially I don't know when my employment ended. The original settlement agreement that was being negotiated said 15th Jan, but then a letter I received on Jan 21st, dated Jan 20th said I had been dismissed on the 15th Jan. I had been advised of my salary on Jan 20th., so at thetime I believed the settlement was still in negotiation and I was still an employee. When I received the letter on Jan 21st I was horrified, it didn't make sense. I didn't receive the pay That I had been advised of either.The solicitor thought it bizarre because he didn't know what had gone on either. It wasn't until Jan 25th that HR replied to solicitor and they said the compromise was still on the table but it had be signed by the 29th Jan. On the 27th I submitted my appeal. I was also trying to sort out my January sick pay and asked for a meeting to go through it. On Jan 28th I asked solicitor for an extension deadline to sort outstanding pay issues out. HR didn't reply o the request until 2 hours before the deadline, and rejected it. I was desperate for the money, I had to sign.
You've signed a settlement agreement. As part of that you have received legal advice - did your solicitor explain what was going on? They will have submitted a statement as part of the agreement that they have advised you.
My understanding is that the settlement is binding and you can't now change your mind. If you don't feel you've been properly advised, you need to take that up with your solicitor.
Employment tribunal proceedings are very stressful. If you've been paid a fair agreement (and again, your solicitor should have advised you on the strength of your claim and what that might be worth) then you've got nothing to gain by pursuing them through the courts. Them paying you off is their admission that they haven't managed it well.
Hope your next job goes more smoothly.
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