Employee Awarded Over £14,000 for Unfair Dismissal (Mr C Peden v Chanlon Group Ltd)

In the case of Mr C Peden v Chanlon Group Ltd an employee is awarded compensation of over £14,000 following the failure to follow a fair process before dismissing him.

The Facts in Mr C Peden v Chanlon Group Ltd

 Mr C Peden (the “Claimant”) claimed that during the course of his employment, Chanlon Group Ltd (the “Respondent”):

  • failed to follow a fair disciplinary process before terminating his employment; and
  • failed to pay him his accrued holiday following the termination of his employment.

The Claimant is a gas engineer and commenced employment on 27 October 2017 as a Lead Technician. After three months, he was promoted as Gas Divisional Manager.  On 11 February 2020, the Claimant was appointed as a Director for one of the Respondent’s subsidiaries (Industrial Commercial Heating Solutions “ICHS”). ICHS was owned by C Hanlon All Trades Limited which later became Chanlon Group Limited. They provided the Claimant with a written contract of employment on this date.

In January 2022, the Respondent employed more shareholders and the business merged with Chanlon Group Ltd (“CGL”).  The Claimant was not made a Director of CGL and remained as the Director of ICHS in February 2022. His job title then changed to that of Departmental Head of Energy Services for the Group, but he was not provided with a new contract of employment.

On 23 May 2022, the Respondent called the Claimant to a meeting and was informed by the HR Director Ms Alia Taub (AT) that he was being suspended pending an investigation (no reasons given). He was also asked to hand over his car keys, office keys and mobile phone (which he refused to do being his personal phone) and not access his emails. The only reason provided was complaints made by a client of the Respondent (City Building).

On 25 May 2022, the Claimant attended an investigation meeting chaired by John Hamilton (JH) and one other staff member. The Claimant was told that this was a fact-finding meeting where he would not be able to ask questions, only to provide answers. JH provided the Claimant with 2 photos in the meeting of a boiler and flue that had been installed at 9 Elizabeth Walk, Dumfries. JH stated that it had a cracked flue and leaked CO2. The Claimant argued that the photos did not show this and went through the process of checking and signing off boiler installations on that property. No other details were provided of allegations against him.

On 1 June 2022, the Claimant received an email from AT inviting him to a disciplinary meeting on 9 June 2022, following an investigation. However, no evidence or details of the findings was provided. A week later the Claimant requested copies of the evidence and findings, but neither was forthcoming.

On 9 June, the Claimant attended the disciplinary meeting, conducted by AT, who read a prepared statement to him. AT confirmed he would be summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. He had the right to appeal within 5 days, which was confirmed in writing.

On 12 June 2022, the Claimant emailed his appeal, and a meeting was held on 15 June 2022.  His appeal was refused and confirmed by Ajay Kawa (AK) in an email dated 21 June 2022.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant had been unfairly dismissed and awarded him:

  • a Basic Award of £2,284;
  • a Compensatory Award of £11,751.03;
  • the sum of £501.60 in respect of accrued but unpaid holiday pay. 

The tribunal could see no evidence of gross misconduct when looking at the evidence and applying the relevant case law.  No evidence in the form of interviews with any gas safety experts, investigating officer, or even City Buildings was produced. The 2 photos shown to the client were considered inconclusive. The tribunal concluded that no reasonable investigation had been conducted. Furthermore, they concluded that the Respondent had failed to show a genuine and reasonable belief of misconduct.

The tribunal also decided that the Respondent had failed to undertake a fair process to support a finding of misconduct.

Our lawyers view

Steve Norton, a lawyer at Redmans, says – In this case, the employer failed to follow a fair and reasonable process when carrying out an investigation. Without providing clear evidence of any misconduct or allowing the employee to make his case and dispute, which turned out to be a flimsy basis for a case of misconduct.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal can be found here