Fail to investigate; fail to win!

An “over-promoted” medical practice manager has won a constructive dismissal case against her former employer after claiming she was bullied by a “brusque and blunt” doctor.

Having worked in the practice for 30 years as a receptionist she was promoted to practice manager. She was considered to be “over-promoted” by the doctors and was described as not being a proactive or enthusiastic manager. In particular, one of the doctors at the practice, Dr Smits, was described as “direct, brusque and blunt” and would “question, challenge and shout at” the employee. She raised a grievance against him, and subsequently resigned her post.

An employment tribunal determined that the investigation into her grievances was not conducted thoroughly, as those appointed to do so had been unduly influenced by the practice partners. Two days after receiving the outcome letter from the grievance procedure, the employee resigned, stating her trust and confidence had “completely broken down”.

The tribunal found that she was constructively unfairly dismissed and the doctors had failed to manage her performance for some time before she resigned, saying “the claimant’s performance could have been better but the respondent’s mismanaged and bullied her; despite this there were signs of improvement.” “She was not given a fair chance to improve free from oppression and uncorroborated suspicion of misconduct.”

If the practice had gone down a proper performance management route, leading to a fair dismissal, they would not have lost this case.

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