Unite member wins Industrial Tribunal case with help of the legal service

An Industrial Tribunal has awarded Unite member, Geraldine Christie, compensation of £2,878.75 following successful claims for unfair dismissal and a failure to provide her with a statement of employment particulars.

Geraldine worked as a manager for a retirement home in Northern Ireland. Following events at work in early 2014, Geraldine approached Unite Legal Services for help in pursuing a claim against her former employer. She was provided with legal assistance at Tribunal hearings, which took place in January and October 2015.

The Industrial Tribunal decided that Geraldine had resigned from her employment in February 2014, she subsequently decided to retract her resignation and that the retraction was accepted by her employer because it told her at a grievance meeting in March 2014 that she was still employed by the company.

Despite what was said at the grievance meeting, the employer then sent Geraldine a letter in April 2014 stating that it was not willing to allow her to retract her resignation. The Industrial Tribunal decided that the employer was not entitled to change its mind in this way and that the April 2014 letter amounted to a dismissal.

The Industrial Tribunal also found that the April 2014 dismissal was automatically unfair because Geraldine’s employer had not followed the statutory dismissal procedures, which gives employees protection when they are facing potential disciplinary action.

When an employer is contemplating dismissing an employee the statutory dismissal procedures mean that the employer must send the employee a written statement outlining the alleged misconduct and invite the individual to a disciplinary meeting to discuss the matter.

After the disciplinary meeting, the employer must inform the employee of the decision and about their right of appeal. If an appeal is submitted, the employer must invite the employee to attend a further meeting and after the appeal meeting, the employer must inform the employee of the final decision.

Geraldine said: “I can’t thank Unite Legal Services enough – they were excellent. I was really impressed by the legal service I received and I got good advice throughout the process. My case shows the benefit of union membership because without the assistance of Unite I would not have been able to take legal action against my former employer.”

Sean McKeever, Unite regional officer, said: “The case shows that employers must follow proper procedures when dismissing someone. If employers do not do so Unite will take action to ensure that our members’ rights are protected and that they receive appropriate compensation.”