Pre-determined outcome meant dismissal was unfair!

An estate agent who was subject to disciplinary proceedings was unfairly dismissed after claims he deleted important emails, a tribunal has ruled, saying that “there was little or no independent investigation among other members of staff”.

A company issue had arisen after someone was allowed to move into a property without the necessary paperwork being secured. Rent was not paid and as a result the landlord was out of pocket.  The Claimant was asked to manufacture paperwork to put in place a potentially fraudulent insurance claim, an allegation denied by the employer. The estate agency paid substantial compensation to the landlord as a result and the employment judge took the view that “from then on the directors set about undermining (the Claimant) with a view to removing him from the business”.

The Claimant was belittled in front of others, on one occasion causing him to break down in tears; he was put under pressure from his workload and as the number of properties being managed grew, the team were under considerable pressure. The Claimant’s only colleague resigned and he subsequently went off sick with work-related stress.

The tribunal found out, via a subject access request, that at this time, one of the directors contacted their business management consultant to discuss dismissing the Claimant.

During the time that the Claimant was off sick, the company accessed his emails and determined that he had deleted or moved many emails and that he had been seeking to sabotage company business. No formal investigation was carried out and the Claimant was invited to a disciplinary meeting.  The Judge concluded that the company had already decided to dismiss the Claimant, before he went off sick.

There was little or no independent investigation among other members of staff and the outcome was not dependent on an appropriate investigation.

The Claimant was awarded compensation of £33,583.67, £2,692.32 of which was because he had not ever been issued with a contract of employment.

This outcome shows again the peril of not properly investigating disciplinary allegations, and was undoubtedly more costly for the business due to the substantial lack of  HR processes in place.  If you have any concerns about your HR support, please contact us at

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