When a grievance leads to a dismissal

In a recent employment tribunal, a claimant was found to have raised seven grievances against senior managers in the space of just over a year.  The grievances concerned, amongst other matters, the failure of senior managers to include him in meetings which he thought he should be attending. Subsequent grievances arose as a result of how earlier grievances had been handled.  The grievances could not be resolved because the claimant refused to progress any of the grievances to the formal stage, instead seeking to retain the ability to do so but without withdrawing the grievances. A grievance hearing was fixed but the claimant refused to attend despite being informed that attendance was considered to be a reasonable instruction. The grievance hearing proceeded in the claimant’s absence and the grievances were not upheld.

The employer considered the claimant’s conduct to amount to gross misconduct in that he had brought numerous vexatious grievances and had refused to comply with a reasonable management instruction to attend the meeting. He was dismissed.  An employment tribunal found that his dismissal was fair. The claimant appealed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) dismissed the appeal.  The employment tribunal had, in the circumstances of this case, been entitled to find the claimant’s conduct in raising the vexatious grievances and refusing to attend the meeting was sufficient to justify his dismissal.

Employers can become frustrated with employees who bring multiple grievances, but it would not be advised that an employer dismiss an employee for raising a grievance. In this case the important factor was that the grievances were frivolous and vexatious and the claimant refused to progress or withdraw his grievances.  Employers could easily face claims against them for not progressing a grievance or indeed taking action against an employee for raising a grievance.  Should you require any advice following a grievance being raised,  121 HR Solutions can help on 0800 121 9995.

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