Poundland shop manager awarded £21,000 after unfair dismissal

A Poundland store manager has been awarded £21,000 compensation after she was unfairly dismissed for allegedly stealing a drink.

The manager, Ms Stokes, had worked at the company for eight years. During the last two she experienced friction with a newly appointed area sales manager.

In June 2017, the area sales manager and a senior colleague entered Ms Stokes’ office unannounced.

They told her they had reason to believe that she had taken drinks from the damaged stock area. They showed her CCTV footage of her holding a drink.

They only showed her a few seconds of footage, which didn’t include her consuming the drink.

Ms Stokes believed the allegations were malicious and could be connected to a performance management meeting she had held with a supervisor who had been ‘underperforming’.

The supervisor had emailed the senior managers saying that he had seen Ms Stokes and another colleague with a couple of drinks and ‘put two and two together’. This was the only ‘evidence’ against her.

During the investigation, Ms Stokes said that she recalled finding some out of date drinks on the shop floor but not taking one of the drinks into her office. She added that she had been exhausted after working long hours with no assistant.

She asked to see the full CCTV footage of her consuming the drink, but this was not provided.

She was suspended and forbidden from contacting staff. She lodged a grievance with HR saying that the supervisor had acted maliciously, and that the investigation had been unfair.

She was dismissed by letter with the alleged theft given as the reason for her dismissal.

She took the case to the Employment Tribunal where the judge found that the store had followed a flawed investigation process and that there had been no reasonable basis to believe she had been guilty of misconduct.

Ms Stokes was awarded £20,930.48 plus costs.

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