Security guard was unfairly dismissed after submitting grievance letter

The dismissal of a security guard after he submitted a grievance letter on behalf of work colleagues has been ruled unfair by the Employment Tribunal. The case involved Mr M Brough, who worked for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

In 2016, he emailed the trust’s chief nurse saying that security officers “had lost trust in management” over various issues. He was told by the HR department that he “should not go straight to executive officers but should use the appropriate workforce policy”. Mr Brough and the other officers then consulted their trade union and raised a collective grievance. It was written by Mr Brough and signed by six other officers.

The trust instructed an independent HR company to investigate the grievance. During the investigation, all the officers except Mr Brough withdrew from the grievance procedure. Following further internal investigations, a manager in the case concluded that the collective grievance “had been submitted in bad faith and should be considered as a disciplinary matter”. 

Mr Brough was later dismissed after a disciplinary hearing concluded that his actions had amounted to gross misconduct. He brought a claim to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled in his favour. It held that he was unfairly dismissed because the trust’s actions were “outside the range of what was reasonable in terms of investigation, grounds for belief and procedure”.

During the investigation about the allegation that he was acting in bad faith, he was not asked in any depth about the claims or shown notes of interviews with other people involved, nor was he asked for his version of events. Despite these failings, the investigator went on to recommend the disciplinary proceedings that led to the unfair dismissal. Mr Brough was awarded £10,990 compensation.

Please contact Paul Stevens on 020 8290 7422 or by email, if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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