Discrimination Grievance

(18 Posts)
Coco1805 Wed 25-Jul-18 00:03:02

Hi All,

First time posting so please be kind smile

Ok, so I returned to work from mat leave in feb this year and ended my (almost) 4 years of employment in May by means of voluntary redundancy (of sorts-things were so bad in the end I took what was offered and left). Prior to me finishing I submitted a grievance on the 8th May which I received a response to today.

Basically I believe I have grounds for maternity discrimination as my previous employer didn’t not communicate changes to my job, my reporting line and a company restructure whilst I was away.

Upon return I was sidelined and told informally that my position was to be made redundant.

Despite my constant asking for answers and me raising a grievance about this treatment I received no answers from them and as I say after almost 3 month have only just received the response- which was horrific! Basically they have turned everything around to being my fault, I had poor performance and a bad attitude. Apparently this was discussed with me on several occasions though I cannot recall anyone ever saying anything negative about me at work and have had various thank you cards and emails sent to me praising my commitment and good work.

I guess I want to know if anyone has had anything similar happen to them and if so how did you deal with it.

I should also note that early conciliation with acas ended on the 13th and I have the tribunal certificate ready to go.

Thanks for reading

OP’s posts: |
AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 00:10:57

I don't understand, what was the 'early conciliation with acas' for? You seem to be saying that they ignored your grievance from May until they responded today, but you were in negotiation with them about it?

Coco1805 Wed 25-Jul-18 06:36:50

Hi another name,

I put in for early conciliation with Acas as they seemingly ignored my grievance for as long as they possibly could. They didn’t arrange a meeting to hear my grievance until 31st May, I agreed at the meeting that they would respond to me by the 11th and then on the 11th June they said that they would reply until the start of July and as said above they responded yesterday.

With regards to the early conciliation the employers solicitors did not engage until the day the time limit was up and gave the initial impression that they would be willing to engage and then I received this directly from the employer yesterday.

The response to the grievance is basically twisted to say that the reason I was discriminated against was because I was a terrible employee and not because I was on mat leave-by all accounts it is a complete fabrication of the truth. I would like to think that I was a model employee, never had a day off sick with the exception of when I was poorly during pregnancy, never late, always kind and courteous and always willing to better myself for the needs of the business.

Hope this gives further clarification on the issue.

OP’s posts: |
AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 07:21:37

Thanks for explaining more, and I'm sorry you're being treated like that. I'm not an expert on employment law (hope you get someone along who can give specific advice), but have known a couple of people who have gone through similar, and it seems that, once a company has d coded they want you out, the gloves come off, and they will do and say anything, sadly...
I think all the delaying was probably them hoping you'd give up and go away quietly, but I'd guess that their effective refusal to engage in conciliation won't count in their favour if you do go to tribunal.
If you know what their process is for managing poor performance, or can get hold of a copy, go through it and check if they did any of it (I'm guessing not, and I think that's something you need to emphasize to refute their suggestions that your work was poor). If there had been meetings, it should have been made v clear to you that the purpose was to correct problems, and if there were no emails or letters asking you to attend, nor any follow up emails on what they expected to change, it's unlikely it would be considered that they had clearly warned you, or helped you make improvements.
Also check if their process meets acas' guidelines for a reasonable process (all online).
If there is no process for managing performance, then that in itself doesn't look good for them!
Also, did they keep in touch while you were pregnant? If they decided to make you redundant when you returned, they presumably are suggesting all these meetings about performance happened when you were on maternity leave (otherwise how could that have been the reason)? Or while you were in the later stages of pregnancy?
As I said, not an expert, but it looks as if you can do quite a lot to refute their case against you.

Coco1805 Wed 25-Jul-18 07:57:08

Thanks Anothername,

This issues with my poor performance has only come out as a result of my grievance and unsuprisingly they have no policy with regards to performance management.

From the jist of the letter the issues with my performance relate to a period just before my pregnancy where I was acting up at a more senior level.

To give more detail I was employed as a Designate for the office manager back in 2014, said office manager never gave me any training on her duties as she was reluctant to let go. She then went off on medical leave for 3 months and I covered her to the best of my abilities with half a days training to get by on. During this time I was given very little support from senior management but put the hours in and by all accounts did a reasonable job considering the circumstances.

Just after I informed them of my pregnancy they brought in another team member with more experience than me but then started giving her little bits of the office managers duties and whilst I was on mat leave most of those duties were given to her.

A month after my return (a month were I didn’t have anything to do) they told me that my position would be made redundant but I could accept a less role on less money.

They didn’t communicate any info whilst I was on maternity leave except for discussing my phases return and informing me of a site closure. Nothing was mentioned regarding a restructure or reallocation of duties nor did they mention that my line manager (not the the office manager but one of the directors) had left during my leave.

I think when I went back that they thought I would leave of my own accord if not given enough work to do (I love being busy at work) and like you say delayed the response with the grievance hoping I’d just give up on the end.

I think this is just bully boy tactics to get me to drop the matter as the information provides in the grievance response is vague at best and raises more questions than it answers.

I have sent it onto the conciliator anyway to see if they can advise if I should appeal or just put in the certificate for tribunal.

It’s just awful hearing those things after dedicating a big part of my life to a company. I guess I am a bit naive to think that employers would look after the employees that put their all into the job sad

OP’s posts: |
AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 12:55:00

It's rubbish OP, you're right, and it'd upset me too - but you have to try to see it as a sort of strategic game they are playing, which has v little to do with what anyone you actually worked with may really think of your work.
It sounds like you have some sort of case (again, I'm not an expert tho), but it's worth considering whether the potential gain from going to tribunal is worth the time and stress? Will you be looking for another job, I assume you wouldn't want to go back there? So do you want to juggle both and a baby, and have to ask for time off to go to tribunal?
I know you probably feel you want to go that route on principle, but you may be able to negotiate some sort of settlement based on presenting your case, and the obvious flaws in theirs to the company, and asking, basically (I know someone who received a surprisingly large sum in that way, with a single letter from a solicitor).

I'd suggest proper employment law professional advice on that really (be careful of revealing your arguments on the flaws in their case too early, as they may be able to backfill some of what's missing then, you need to reach a specific point where they cannot go back and add to their case..).
Lots of luck OP, and hope you get someone along who really knows their stuff!

AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 12:59:12

Would also add that all my experience is of people being fired, rather than raising a grievance, so you may need also to look at whether they have handled your grievance fairly (according to acas' guidance), and what options you have in terms of taking the grievance higher on appeal etc, before taking it outside the company (not that I think that will help, but if there is any process, or an implied one, make sure you follow it to the letter!).

My38274thNameChange Wed 25-Jul-18 18:10:28

OP I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but if you returned from maternity leave in February then you’re way past the protected period for maternity discrimination and would be out of time to bring a claim. The time limit is three months.

You’d have to either try and persuade the tribunal to extend time limits (very unlikely) or bring a direct sex discrimination claim (assuming you didn’t sign a settlement agreement as part of your redundancy).

AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 20:10:25

I'm not sure that's correct, if the OP was involved in an internal grievance process, surely she wouldn't be expected to start tribunal action in parallel or miss a 3 month deadline? That would lead to a lot of unnecessary tribunal cases when they could have been resolved within the company hmm

AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 20:14:16

Have a look at this OP, time is paused while you go through conciliation, and seems to start from the last discrimatory incident:

www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/discrimination-at-work/taking-legal-action-about-discrimination-at-work/time-limits-for-making-a-discrimination-claim-in-the-employment-tribunal/

You really need expert advice though!

AnotherDayAnotherName745 Wed 25-Jul-18 20:22:23

This has some interesting examples too:

www.personneltoday.com/hr/workplace-maternity-discrimination-10-common-scenarios-tribunals/

Coco1805 Wed 25-Jul-18 20:54:31

Hi both;sorry had a long day and not much chance to get online.

Time limit for my claim runs out on10/08 so I do know that much, I did get a bit of free advice last week but that was before the result of the grievance they have said that I do have a case. Up until I received the response I was prepared to fight them myself but I think I really do need to get formal representation now. I guess I’m just wondering if other out there in similar situations have appealed against the grievance (I have 5 days to do so) or just gone straight to ET or do I do them both together.

OP’s posts: |
daisychain01 Thu 26-Jul-18 05:10:39

Did you state in your Grievance what your desired outcome is? I presume you used the grievance to document all aspects of their discriminatory actions and why you believe you were treated unfairly ie managed out during your Mat Leave.

If they paid you redundancy of some description did you state that (a) you didn't agree with them that there was a redundancy situation as your role still exists and (b) the payment you received did not fully compensate you for the loss of your job.

You don't have to Appeal their decision in order to move forward to submitting your ET1 which is your claim to the Tribunal against your employer however it does strengthen your case by completing their internal process.

If you do choose to Appeal are you clear about what your desired outcome of the Appeal is? Do you want your job back? Do you want further compensation for your job loss ?. If the relationship is shot to pieces then an Appeal may be meaningless, in which case you could either not refer to the Appeal in your ET1 or highlight that it would have been meaningless and stressful for you to have to appeal against a foregone conclusion and they've already evidenced that they have consistently ignored your concerns about discrimination and then discredited your unblemished career history in order to manage you out.

The downside of not completing the Appeal is that it's a tick in their box at Tribunal, but that might not matter too much if you highlight your stress levels and if your discrimination case is strong.

daisychain01 Thu 26-Jul-18 05:16:20

To your point you can continue with the appeal process even while you submit your ET1 if they have already pushed back on the Early Conciliation (I.e. at that stage they are stating they don't recognise you have a claim against them. But they would say that wouldn't they....)

There is nothing to stop you continuing through the process and taking it right up to Tribunal if what you want is compensation for their treatment of you. It will cost you dearly, and that could be what they are counting on, that you capitulate. Equally you are pushing it closer towards Tribunal in the hope they see there is a risk to them that's best nipped in the bud with a settlement agreement.

daisychain01 Thu 26-Jul-18 05:21:12

Another desired outcome could be that you do still want to work for your employer and want to be offered an alternative post. This is viable especially if the company is large with a constantly refreshing pool of vacancies.

daisychain01 Thu 26-Jul-18 05:24:49

I would like to think that I was a model employee, never had a day off sick with the exception of when I was poorly during pregnancy, never late, always kind and courteous and always willing to better myself for the needs of the business

When putting forward your case, state things as fact I.e. don't be modest or timid about it! "I was a model employee, unblemished attendance record, strong evidence of contribution and end of year reviews, and frequent history of self improvement through internal and external training"

Coco1805 Thu 26-Jul-18 06:42:54

Wow Daisy chain thank you so much for this!

I raising on several occasions the arguement that my job was still present both informally and formally during a consultation meeting-this was documented in the minutes but unsparingly I haven’t had a copy of those. I left before the end of the consulation process after submitting my grievance.

The grievance doesn’t go into every single detail but does over view the situation as a whole and I believe highlights they key points for my case. It should be noted that I do have a full record of each issue as I eventually started noting things down.

I did state initially that i recognised that it wasn’t possible for me to keep my job but I was looking for acknowledgement of the issues and to make such issues better at my workplace as I have a dear friend who I work with also on maternity leave and due to return to work in the near future. Now I am looking for further compensation for the fact this and how they have handled things since leaving.

Thinking about you comment re being modest. I think they may have picked up on this during my hearing as I’m not one to brag and used this to their advantage. That said I have evidence from our previous managing director to my personal email thanking me for a job well done and various thank you cards from customers praising me for my hard work during my time with the company so maybe I could use those to demonstrate to results in the workplace.

I happen to know that I am just the latest in a string of issues that have been raised to acas and in all cases such tactics have been used and successfully too.

OP’s posts: |
daisychain01 Fri 27-Jul-18 07:39:39

Coco, something to bear in mind is employers can and do flout employment law. It takes some one with a caste iron case, a strong stomach and deep pockets to get them into a Tribunal.

Your employer's probably won't mend their ways if you decide to take them all the way, and the actual compensation might partially recompense you but you won't have much change left after you've paid off your legal fees. With Tribunal fees eliminated they will be cute enough to realise it lowers the bar somewhat to lodge a claim, so people (not saying you) may just try it on, so they may keep pushing back, prevaricating and making you invest your time and energy while they're all getting on with their lives, to see if you mean business.

As I always say on here, remember the costs you pay come out of your personal budget, any costs they incur come from their corporate bank account.

I'd get a solicitor to review your papers and get them to take a holistic approach re: do you have a clear cut discrimination case and are there aspects of internal policy and procedure that they breached or been careless about.

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