Employee Wins Unfair Dismissal Case but has Compensation Cut by 100% (Mr K Ahmed v National Westminster Bank PLC)

In the case of Mr K Ahmed v National Westminster Bank PLC (NatWest) an employee wins his case for unfair dismissal but has his compensation cut by 100% due to his behaviour and the fact that he was running a “sensual massage” parlour under an alias.

The Facts in Mr K Ahmed v National Westminster (NatWest) Bank PLC

Mr K Ahmed (“the Claimant”) commenced work with NatWest Bank PLC (“the Respondent”) on 8 March 2018 as a D&A Analyst. He has bipolar disorder. During the course of his employment, the Claimant argued that:

  • he was directly discriminated against because of his disability;
  • he was discriminated against because of something arising from his disability; and
  • he was unfairly dismissed.

The Claimant had a series of performance and conduct issues and several spells of sickness during his period of employment. In response to facing disciplinary action, he raised a series of grievances against various managers along with other members of staff involved in the process or the management of his performance.

The Claimant was involved in several incidents for example:

  • At a meeting, on 21 February 2020, with Mr Bouwers (Head of Data Capability) to discuss concerns about his lateness, failure to deliver work targets, failure to log on when working from home and failure to report his sickness absence within a reasonable time, he failed to answer questions apart from with a “no comment” reply;
  • On 17 May 2020, he acted inappropriately and aggressively towards guardians who were acting on behalf of the Respondent. They were raising concerns regarding his campervans, as he parked where he should not have on the property owned by the Respondent;
  • On 17 September 2020, he was called to an investigation meeting to discuss evidence that he was operating another business. The business had an associated website called “Agile Love” which had sexually explicit images and offered sexual services. This was in breach of company policy and caused reputational damage to the Respondent as the Claimant referred to the company in the materials.
  • During the investigations, he made several comments aimed at Mr Bouwers, that he would “cause gross misconduct against him” and said, “I will take you apart”.

In response to the disciplinary investigations, the Claimant raised a series of grievances:

  • On 9 May 2019, he raised a grievance about Aled Roberts (CDO Data Profiling Service Manager) and another member of staff alleging he was being bullied, due to discussions he had with colleagues regarding rumours of redundancies;
  • On 25 November 2019, he emailed Graham Ward (Head of Data Management Service) making allegations against Aled Roberts and another member of staff, of discriminating against him, harassing him and making a “bogus” attempt to discipline and dismiss him;
  • He raised another grievance, on 6 March 2020, regarding the decision to suspend him.
  • On 24 September 2020, he raised a grievance about the length of time the disciplinary investigation was taking. He expressed concerns about being stalked online by Mr Bouwers.
  • Additionally, he accused the Respondents of having employed private investigators to stalk him and blamed them for the potential eviction of his Campervans.

The Claimant was dismissed on 28 October 2020 based on irreparable damage to the relationship with his NatWest colleagues and managers, to a point where continuing employment was untenable.

He was not invited to attend a meeting to discuss any possibility of his employment continuing, and his contract would be terminated immediately with payment instead of notice. He was not offered a right of appeal.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal

The tribunal found that the Claimant had been unfairly dismissed as the Respondent could have done more to avoid unfair dismissal at that stage. They could have held a meeting to discuss the reasons for dismissal (relationship breakdown*). Additionally, the Claimant should have been allowed to appeal the decision to dismiss him.

The reason behind the relationship breakdown and the failure to take the above steps made the dismissal unfair.  However, the tribunal also concluded that the actions and behaviour of the Claimant towards his managers and work colleagues, as well as the reputational risk for the Respondent on being associated with his business venture Agile Love, contributed to his dismissal. Hence, a 100% deduction is just and reasonable for both his basic and compensatory awards.

His other claims under disability discrimination were seen as unfounded instead of being seen as examples of less favourable treatment because of his disability. 

Our Lawyers View

Steve Norton, says: Although the Claimant achieved a technical victory as the Respondent was found to have dismissed him unfairly, it amounted to a hollow victory. His behaviour wiped out any award of compensation, and his other discrimination claims were not upheld.

[*an irretrievable breakdown of trust and confidence]

If you have also been unfairly dismissed, or need legal advice related to your employment, get in touch with us today!