Lecturer found to have been unfairly dismissed

A lecturer accused of sending “aggressive” messages to colleagues has been awarded £15,000 for unfair dismissal after an employment tribunal ruled there had not been a proper investigation into the allegations made against him.

The claimant was lecturer at Loughborough University and was also a warden of a students’ halls of residence. It was in this role that two colleagues raised complaints against him for his style of communication, complaining that an “inappropriate and humiliating  tone was used in email messages, including multiple question marks and exclamation marks. 

The university’s head of legal services carried out a formal investigation in response to the complaint, but in her report said she had “not been able to identify sufficient evidence to support an allegation of bullying and harassment”.

Following another complaint that his communication was “aggressive and confrontational”.  Believing the allegations to be similar to the previous complaints, it was felt that the University no longer had any trust and confidence in the lecturer and he was given a term’s notice. The letter of dismissal made no reference to a right of appeal.

The judge found that the university had decided to dismiss the lecturer because they no longer trusted him and was not open to the possibility that the decision might be an overreaction, describing the decision as “a knee-jerk, gut reaction”.

The leccturer won a basic award of £4,129.38 and a compensatory award of £10,299.84.

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