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My sister has been sacked. Advice please

(22 Posts)
Jampot Fri 10-Oct-08 18:26:55

I have found out today that my sister was suspended from her job nearly 2 weeks ago pending investigation into internet and email usage. She was advised by the Union rep to resign which has now happened. The incident also involved another employee who had previously been in trouble for fighting on the premises but wasnt sacked at teh time. They were watching him but noticed that my sister appeared in his "top 10" of email contacts. Obv I dont know the nature of the emails but the previous person who had been called in for this same crime was a union rep and was given a warning. She has been employed by the same company for 25 years. Any inappropriate emails that she would have forwarded would have been sent by another employee as she doesnt really know anyone from outside the company having spent her whole working life there. SO the question is, is it worth her getting legal advice or has she now kissed all her rights away by resigning?

Lauriefairycake Fri 10-Oct-08 18:32:50

I resigned once and couldn't take it back.

However she was advised by her union - do you know why? was it inappropriate use of the email system ie. you're not supposed to use it for personal use and had that been explained and she had signed a computer usage agreement?

or did she send something dodgy/inappropriate?

Jampot Fri 10-Oct-08 18:36:47

dont know all the ins and outs now but I think some of the emails were those jokey ones that do the rounds... possibly, given that its a male dominated manufacturing environment, were a little close to the bone. I am going to go over to see her this evening although she's not answering the phone - her dh knows Im going over. If the content was the problem then as I pointed out another employee would have sent it.

Lauriefairycake Fri 10-Oct-08 18:46:32

ok, but they can choose to treat differently. I actually know someone this happened to. My friend sent an email from her home address to her work address and copied her friend at work. The friend at work then forwarded it.

The friend was sacked for inappropriately using work's email. My friend was not sacked because she had sent it from her home address (even though she had sent it to her own work address - she wanted to make one of the cute pictures her screen saver)

I'm pretty sure if you resign you can't take it back though I'm sure if she has a case at all it's against the union and it's rep for bad advice.

flowerybeanbag Fri 10-Oct-08 19:23:31

First thing to say is she hasn't been sacked. She has been suspended during an investigation into an incident or series of incidents. She has not been sacked, or given any kind of warning either.

It's difficult to advise on what appropriate action would be for the employer to take should they decide after the investigation that her use of the email facility was inappropriate, as there's not enough information to tell. But at the moment they've not taken any disciplinary action anyway.

Suspension pending an investigation is not disciplinary action, it's removing someone from the workplace while an employer looks into a situation, gets the facts together and decide whether or not disciplinary action is appropriate or not. For all you know they may have been on the verge of deciding not to pursue it at all, or to give a verbal warning or something.

Why on earth did the union rep advise her to resign? That's bizarre! The only reason I can possibly think of is if she had definitely done something so bad that she was bound to be dismissed and she decided she wanted to resign beforehand so that her reason for leaving was not dismissal. I can't think of any other reason why a union rep would advise someone being investigated to resign. Oh, except if it was something very sensitive they'd done that they didn't want coming out publicly and preferred to just walk away quietly, I've had that before.

Don't really feel I can help more at the moment tbh, perhaps you'll have more information soon. But if she has resigned during an investigation and regrets it, it's difficult to see what she could do tbh. Her employer has done nothing wrong that I can see, not yet at least. Any claim would be against the rep for bad advice.

Jampot Sat 11-Oct-08 01:33:27

it would appear that the union rep advised her to resign otherwise she would lose her pension which she has contributed towards for 25 years in the event that they sacked her. BIL (who also works there) had requested an external union official but the union said it was not necessary at this level. I think they intimated that because she has an individual log in and password they were able to isolate her - several other computers have a more general usage so they're unable to pinpoint any specific abusers (although they acknowledge it does go on)

flowerybeanbag Sat 11-Oct-08 08:05:49

She'd lose her pension?!

Well he must have been pretty sure (or I would hope he was) that it was a serious sacking offence with clear cut evidence, no argument, no doubt, no question of unfair singling out.
Otherwise just to prevent the risk of possibly losing her pension, she's now lost her job.

Seems strange advice to me, and if she regrets the decision she made she should consider bringing a complaint against the union, I would expect them to have a complaints procedure.

ivykaty44 Sat 11-Oct-08 08:20:23

hmm culling the workforce spring to mind in the current crisis and emails are a way of doing this . BUT for the union advice - fishy sounding.

Jampot Fri 17-Oct-08 09:51:46

her colleague has intimated there was a rumour at work that her and another worker were carrying on as it were. He too was suspended and resigned. Her dh also works there which can't be nice. Its also come to light that the director never liked my sister for whatever reason and BIL wonders whether she has been targetted by him. Is she able to request whatever information they hold on her under the Data Protection Act or whatever it is to establish what is held by them on her. Also can any employee request this information?

flowerybeanbag Fri 17-Oct-08 09:55:55

Yes she or any employee, or any person for that matter, can make a request under the Data Protection Act to see any information held about her. It's called the right of subject access. She needs to put the request in writing and the company may charge a small fee for providing it.

If she does this and finds out that way that the director never liked her or whatever, what does she plan to do with that information?

clam Fri 17-Oct-08 10:38:53

Any documentation that can be viewed by people surely won't hold anything incriminating about them. Who's going to write, "I don't like this person." or whatever, on an official document?
In schools, for instance, such sensitive information would be passed on by word-of-mouth. The only documents kept in children's official files are copies of any letters passed to and fro between parents, school and any outside agencies, all of which, presumably, the person has already seen.

flowerybeanbag Fri 17-Oct-08 10:44:16

clam it's not just a case of writing something on an official document. It could be an email, or a memo, or jotted on a piece of paper somewhere. People can sometimes be especially careless with emails and use them as if it were conversation, and potentially the employee could have been the subject of email discussions between people without having any knowledge of it.

flowerybeanbag Fri 17-Oct-08 10:47:07

Having said that, should a director have been a bit daft and put things in an email which he shouldn't, there's no way of Jampot's sister knowing those emails exist, so if they were not provided as part of her access request, she wouldn't know they were missing.

ilovemydog Fri 17-Oct-08 13:42:44

This is outrageous. I've been a union rep, and it's astounding that she was advised to resign. If for no other reason, it's amazing that the union rep didn't go through the first disciplinary to see what the company had on her.

She should call the legal dept of the union at national level. If they gave negligent advice, and it really pains me to say this, she would have a claim against the union.

Has she definitely resigned?

Also, was it made clear to the union that she was told to resign by the rep? Or were they under the impression that the rep would take the matter forward? She needs to ask for the regional rep to take her case forward.

Jampot Fri 17-Oct-08 16:46:47

Sorry should have made it clear - I dont think she thinks the director would have been stupid enough to write his thoughts down. I think she/BIL wonder whether she was earmarked and then as she did use the internet in works time they jumped on her. The rep was the same guy who had previously been given a warning for doing exactly teh same thing. She wasnt allowed a higher official - she did ask for someone other than the rep she works with.

Yes she has definitely resigned

flowerybeanbag Fri 17-Oct-08 17:37:40

If he hasn't written anything down what would she expect to find as evidence that she was 'earmarked' Jampot? And what would she do if she did find anything? The employer have done nothing wrong, they haven't taken any disciplinary action, given her any kind of warning or anything.

ilovemydog Fri 17-Oct-08 17:41:14

My advice would be to get in contact with the regional office of the union concerned. Speak with the regional officer and that your sister needs help to get her job back based on the union's negligent advice.

flowerybeanbag Fri 17-Oct-08 17:50:33

That sounds like good advice from ilove. I would doubt very much that she will be able to get her job back tbh - the fact that she resigned based on duff advice is between her and the union and isn't the employer's problem. But I would certainly be seeking some kind of compensation from the union as her financial loss from doing this could be significant, particularly if she struggles to get another job.

ilovemydog Fri 17-Oct-08 17:59:21

The other thing is whether her resignation has been accepted?

I had to represent this guy who was always resigning. He'd get drunk, call up the boss and tell him to stick his job. shock

Anyway, is there a possibility that she could call up H/R and ask for it to be withdrawn pending the original inquiry?

flowerybeanbag Fri 17-Oct-08 18:02:22

Yes absolutely, she could certainly ask. Jampot has she had any kind of response to her resignation do you know?

No harm in asking certainly, but it depends on the resignation iyswim? If it was one of the 'have a row, storm out and 'resign' then apologise the next day, there's an argument that the employer should allow it to be withdrawn. But if it was in writing and a while has passed, there's no reason they should so it's purely about whether they want her back or not.

Jampot Sat 18-Oct-08 11:18:00

I think she wants to know what made the rep decide to advise resignation. I am assuming he was given some kind of evidence

ilovemydog Sat 18-Oct-08 11:32:30

Even if the evidence is stacked up against her, my question to the union would be why they didn't go through the disciplinary process of which there are several stages.

Part of the problem too is that she has effectively given up her rights to take the matter to tribunal. as she hasn't gone through the internal process.

Unless your sister was downloading porn or sending inappropriate emails, I cannot see how it would have been a sackable offence.

But as Flowery points out, the company didn't do anything wrong....

Will your sister contact the union at reg level or national level?

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