Forum

Emoployment advice - possible discrimination?

OK so zetland has presented this as an “either-or” proposition. You can dress this up in pretty words, but it still comes back to the point of fight back, or give up. One or the other.

There is a point that seems to have been missed, here; you know that you are leaving, and roughly when. They do not know that. If you take the advice and go to a good employment solicitor you will know how good a case you have. Then tell your HR person. If they do anything against you, then constructive dismissal will apply. Very few cases taken to an Industrial Tribunal actually come to court - the employers usually settle out-of-court to avoid adverse publicity.

Regardless of the outcome, you now have an excellent reason to leave - and you can make sure that everyone else knows just why. Yes, this is not too far removed from your OH’s viewpoint, but it is not nice being stabbed in the back (and what you do not know is just what has passed between DM and NG).

No, don’t let them get away with it, but make sure that you are the one laughing at the end.

Geoff

Excellent post Geoff!

Thanks guys. There are a few other things: i) Since moving to our new office, I requested to be kept at the end of a bank of desks (five desks per bank) to have easily access to the toilets (no one bothered to discuss any adjustments I would need in the new office before we moved there) as chairs can become a bit of a tangled mess in the middle desks and I’m worried about falling. This has been adhered to - we have been moved around a lot but I’ve always been kept on the end of a bank. The last couple of moves have been discussed with me by DM - even calling me into an office to check it would be ok for me. The last move took me further away from the toilet but I agreed it as it put me near the OM who I have to refer to a lot and it was to save me trekking up and down the office. Whilst I was off sick at the end of last year, me and NG were moved - I was no longer on the end but moved four spaces in (NG in the corner then me next to her) I didn’t know about this until I returned to work in January and was not consulted about it. This week, me and NG have now swapped desks so she can be closer to the new starters. Again, I was not consulted at all - in fact, DM told NG who relayed it to me. I am now in the corner with a cupboard behind me (just moved there) and right by the water cooler so people have to squeeze past me to get to it. In my department, I am now the furthest away from the toilet! ii) My pay this month was massively down. I was expecting the eight working days I took off sick at the end of January to be deducted as it was too late for them to be deducted in my January pay. Not only have they done that but also taken a massive sum off me without warning. When I queried it, I was told that they didn’t expect me back in the month of February (I returned last Monday) so they took the whole month of February off me on the assumption I wasn’t going to be back! They are going to rectify it in my March salary but still, if I didn’t have my partner, I would be completely screwed! iii) Just for information, until late last year, another lady with MS was working there. It is fair to say she had been carried for many years (I worked with her for a long time) as she was just rubbish at everything she did and she blamed it on her MS which really annoyed me. The bottom line was she hated the company, hated working there and made it clear she was only there for the money, to colleagues and managment alike. A lot of reasonable adjustments were made for her - going part time, moving to an office with a lift and conditioning, etc etc. Two of the managers of the department at the time (DM on maternity leave) admitted to me they didn’t know what to do with her - they offered her money to go and she refused, saying it wasn’t enough - and her role was reduced to just doing one thing and she was still making a lot of mistakes. They could have taken her down a capability disciplinary route but they never did. I suggested they get an OT in to advise on what she was capable of but I was told Head Office didn’t have one - despite it being referred to in the staff manual. I refuse to believe they don’t. Anyway, whilst I was off in December, she finally left. Her departure is shrouded in mystery. All I know is there were a lot of meetings between her, one of her colleagues (sitting in to represent her I believe) DM and OM. Next thing, after she’s been in work the previous day, an e-mail from our CEO is sent saying she no longer works there and thanks her for get loyal service. That has NEVER happened before. She worked no notice period - she was just gone. She has told me via text it was all mutual but I don’t believe her. She said the company had been fantastic - she has never had a good word to say about them in the nine years I’ve known her! I’m sure she must have had a pay off. The difference is I am bloody good at what I do. Yes, I’m planning to leave this year but my employers don’t know that. I still have something to offer. Anyway, I’m going to speak to my future FIL today. He is a former senior management level trade unionist and took part of many industrial tribunals in his career. I then plan to speak to an employment solicitor for advice. Ultimately, I want to sit down with DM with HR lady sitting in just to ask her to clarify the reporting structure, why it’s changed without me being consulted or informed and why a reasonable adjustment about the desk has also been reneged on. And I want to spring it on her so she doesn’t have the chance to ask OM for the ‘right answers’. I will keep you posted.

I’d be tempted not to say too much about reasonable adjustments etc. I would definitely not say anything about leaving in October. I’d keep a list of all the things they’ve done wrong - seating, pay, bringing in NG etc and use that to prove were being frozen out and you had no option but to resign.

Most importantly get proper legal advice and KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY!

Good luck with it!

It definitely sounds as though your ex-colleague departed with a Compromise Agreement and a satisfactory pay-off. Maybe your employer decided that she was such a bother that it was worth a fair bit just to get rid, maybe they knew that they were potentially vulnerable to legal challenges from her further down the line and wanted to close that off. Mayber a bit of both. It would be nice if you could achieve the same result - without having to stop being useful, though!

Alison

Good luck, it’s such a shame it had to come to this. It rather sounds as if they had completely written you off this time and had forgotten that MS is a variable condition and that you are capable of bouncing back and can be just as competent as ever.

What a shame that you pee’d on their fireworks, ha ha. Give 'em hell!

Tracey x

Oh guys, guys, guys. I’m so glad I documented all of the above as I’d forgotten quite a lot of it. It makes for very interesting reading.

Update:

Following my last posting, I came off Gilenya at the beginning of April due to another relapse where I was off sick from the end of March to the end of April. I’ve found that the two DMD’s I’ve been on (Rebif and Gilenya) really helped me with my fatigue (I know they’re not supposed to blah blah blah but it is absolutely true) My fatigue then became absolutely crippling and continues to this day. I returned for three days at the beginning of May (when I was asked by DM and OM to help with the file checking they’d previously shut me out of…pffffft!) and I haven’t worked since.

I saw a top neurologist at Addenbrookes in June and was declined for both Tysabri and Lemtrada as my MS is not highly active. Actually, apart from the fatigue, I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve not had a relapse since I came off Gilenya, my physical at Addenbrookes was “almost normal” and my latest MRI scans show no active lesions. In fact, he said to get this far down the line (fifteen years since first presenting) and be in this good condition is "nothing short of remarkable.

I then decided to wait for Tecfidera. I started on it at the end of December and slowly, very slowly, I am starting to feel differently although my first lot of bloods showed that I’m slightly anaemic which may be adding to the fatigue.

The planned move to my OH’s father’s property fell through due to him imposing some ridiculous conditions which made living there totally untenable. We renewed our tenancy where we are in November.

I have pretty much dealt directly with our HR lady throughout all of this. I have provided her with regular updates and sent in my sick notes promptly. I have done everything by the book. I asked her to visit my home in June last year, to find out how the land lay really, and she was adamant that they wanted me back, doing my job as I’m the best person for it, and they were “nowhere near a settlement position” like they were with the other lady with MS (as I suspected, she did get paid off following them starting a capability disciplinary where they had “overwhelming evidence” of her crapness) I have always made it clear to them that I will return as soon as I am well enough. I’ve been advised by my MS nurse that the drug company have advised to persevere with Tecfidera for at least three months so this is the timescale I’ve given to my HR lady - so hopefully returning at the end of March.

Just to try and explain, when DM was reduced to looking after one team from the four, she actually took over two teams - me & NG and another, broadly doing the same kind of work, so we were combined but work very separately. The other team in the split had a superviser as she was given this title at the same time I created my team - the four teams each had a superviser and I worked on my own in a niche role.

Anyway, lo and behold, what do I get sent by a friend in the office two days ago…? An internal announcement confirming that NG has been made a superviser of my team!!! Pfffft!

As you can imagine, I am absolutely livid and so upset. I’ve had no notification of this change from anyone in authority. I’ve spoken to ACAS to see where I stand. They have advised me to ask about “best practise” in the first instance - is this my job she’s been given? And if they say no, it’s a new role that’s been created (which they will) I need to ask why wasn’t I asked to apply for it? And basically where do I stand and what the hell am I walking back into? They have advised me that, if I do feel they have discriminated against me, I should raise it as a grievance.

So yes, I feel even more discriminated against now especially after re-reading all that I wrote her last year. I’ve definitely been well and truly pushed out and it’s almost like they’ve wanted to get this “nailed down” before I return (and I bet NG pushed for it before she goes off and gets pregnant) Of course I realise I’ve been off sick for a long time but it is for a condition covered by the DDA and I should absolutely not be overlooked or have this used against me. Are they allowed to just do this?

There is no way I am going back to report to NG. NO WAY! I created that team and was the superviser in all but name. I interviewed her, she reported to me and no one has ever told me that that’s changed. I’ve since heard from lots of people that she is absolutely hated in that office - apparently, she’s strutting around like she owns the place, telling people how to do their jobs and is woefully lacking in the area I excel in. I’ve also learned something very interesting about her husband and a little sideline he has that she is actively involved in - it’s illegal by the way.

I’m thinking of asking our HR lady here next week (and make sure my OH is here as well as he’s a lot more rational and tactful than me - he works in PR. LOL! - I’m more bull in a china shop!) to go over all of my issues, try and get some answers and then tell her I want to raise this as a formal grievance if I’m not happy with what she says. I’m pretty sure they are now looking at a settlement position, which I would actually take as I feel it is untenable for me to return to work now, but I want to let them know how angry I am and that I won’t be pushed around.

So, lovely people, any thoughts on where I stand would be gratefully received.

Definitely right to invoke the grievance procedure first. If it were to go all the way to Tribunal, it would weaken your case not to have exhausted the internal procedures for getting redress first.

If you know in your heart that you would accept a good exit package, and it sounds as though you would, then your focus now really needs to be on keeping your powder dry while working on how to engineer the best terms. That will probably mean not making things too easy for them. I think it is a very good thing that you are angry and inclined to let them know that - a person really does not want to be a shrinking violet in a situation like yours. Do you have independent legal advice? If not, it might not hurt to hint that, if the grievance procedure does not give you satisfaction, you will be seeking legal advice on your position. Nothing like the threat of a solicitor’s letter to wake up an HR officer. You want to become the threat that they are happy to pay handsomely to go away. Awful, but there it is.

I am sorry that you are in such a horrid situation.

Good luck.

Alison

1 Like

blimey, sounds like NG is a total BTCH who needs a SLP. reminds me of someone (ok, a few people) very similar i worked with. as a former union rep, i suggest that you:

  • don’t give them any reason to complain. although you may sooner prefer to swallow hemlock than report to NG, if she is the appointed team leader, you have (very regretfully) no choice. that doesn’t mean that you undertake duties that are outside of your job description, or those which you can’t do, or those you have not previously done unless they are written down somewhere. you sound very competent at your job, but some political lack of initiative/ lack of ability can often be helpful to reinforce her weaknesses.
  • work to rule by getting a copy of your responsibilities and sticking to them. if they differ from what you understood them to be, question it.
  • clock in/out on time, make sure you have allocated break times uninterrupted by work. if you are questioned on work matters, respectfully request that they speak to you when you are working.
  • if anyone asks for your help, respectfully request that this goes through NG as she is the team leader
  • don’t have ANY meeting unless you have someone to represent you, or notes are taken.
  • if you have a meeting without some representation and it is becoming uncomfortable or unfair to you, ask for a break so you cain speak to someone who can advise you (preferably a union representative, if you have one; failing that, CAB or ACAS if they are involved in
  • cc any emails relating to work to HR/ union as appropriate. tell HR you are doing this in advance as you wish for all communications to be completely transparent especially if you are in arbitration.
  • at the end of each day, write up anything significant and save it. this will help exorcise anything that had irritated you

speak to your immediate colleagues and inform them that due to circumstances outside of your control you are working to rule. these circumstances are personal and you can’t talk about them. if they are friends they will probably know why; if not, sod 'em as you’re leaving soon anyway!

these bullet points could go on forever- in short i would go with everything else that has been said by previous posters.

let NG rule the roost and all that goes with it e.g. putting in the extra hours, taking the flack for her own mistakes etc- she’ll be out of favour after a while and know exactly how you feel. (karma, anyone?).

most importantly turn off when your at home- you and OH deserve to be happy and dwelling on this may affect home life. remember the karma things such as

NG will eventually fall from grace and become out of favour, become pregnant and create a whole set of ‘problems’ for the DM and company as they’ll have no-one to help them. if karma is REALLY working, NG will develop REALLY fat arms! (looks like i am the BTCH now eh?)

i wish you all the best, fluffyollie xx

Thanks guys. The plan is to get HR lady here this week to try and pin her down on what’s going on. Whatever happens, I’m not going back (I’d actually decided that a long time ago) but it would be nice to leave with something. I’m just indignant that they think they can get away with this and that ten years service actually means f**k all because of the MS.

I will keep you posted.

1 Like