Employee Wins Unfair Dismissal Case but Has Compensation Reduced to Nil (Mrs E McNeill v Glynnhill Hotel Ltd)

In the case of Mrs E McNeill v Glynnhill Hotel Ltd, a female employee was successful in her claim for unfair dismissal but had her award reduced by 100%.

The Facts in Mrs E McNeill v Glynnhill Hotel Ltd

Mrs E McNeill (“The Claimant”) was employed by Glynnhill Hotel Ltd (“The Respondent”) in April 2018, as a Financial Controller responsible for managing cash flow and finance-related matters. She reported to Ms Nicholas who was her line manager and then managing director as well as a long-term friend.  This changed in November 2021 when Mr Scholarios was appointed as a director.

She reported to Ms Nicholas who was her line manager and then managing director as well as a long-term friend.  This changed in November 2021 when Mr Scholarios was appointed as a Director.

The Claimant argued that during the course of her employment:

  • she was subjected to an unfair procedural process and investigation resulting in an unfair dismissal;
  • she was denied notice pay which amounted to wrongful dismissal.

Unauthorised Adjustments to Salary

On 20 January 2022, Ms Nicholas was suspended for irregularities in financial transactions and reports sent to company accountants. The Claimant was then given a copy of the suspension letter by Ms Nicholas, making her aware of the suspension.

The Claimant then emailed the Respondent’s accountants, in around April 2022,  requesting an adjustment to Ms Nicholas’s monthly salary from April 2022. The Respondent believed there had been irregularities concerning salary payments and a lack of the necessary authorisation regarding adjusted salary payments.

On 22 December 2002, the Claimant was called to a disciplinary meeting to discuss the issue of making an adjustment to Ms Nicholas’s salary despite knowing she had been suspended while investigations were being carried out without the necessary authorisation.  The Claimant denied knowledge of Ms Nicholas’s suspension.

In addition, they expressed concerns over her behaviour towards another member of staff she was working with. They believed her behaviour could amount to bullying and harassment.

On 13 January 2023, the Claimant was summarily dismissed by reason of gross misconduct.  The reasons given were mistreatment of a work colleague, making adjustments to Ms Nicholas’s salary without authorisation and lastly being dishonest about her knowledge of Ms Nicholas’s suspension.  The deciding manager was Mr Scholarios.

Claimant’s Appeal Not Upheld

The Claimant submitted her appeal, on 18 January 2023, arguing the procedure had been flawed due to delays in the investigation and lack of clarity over the allegations amongst other things.

On 14 and 28 February 2023, the Claimant attended the appeal meeting and appealed on the grounds that she had not been dishonest regarding knowledge of Ms Nicholas’s suspension. She claimed to have not been formally notified and stated that there had been authorisation of the salary adjustment by Mr Scholarios.

The panel did not uphold her appeal finding her responses evasive and dishonest in the way she went about responding to probing questions. She was seen as having clear knowledge of the suspension. Additionally, the way she went about getting approval for authorisation by including several other documents requiring authorisation at the same time was to avoid individual scrutiny.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant faced unfair dismissal and the procedure the employer followed was not considered to be a reasonable response resulting in an unfair dismissal.

However, the tribunal found that it was not just and equitable to award the Claimant any compensation as her conduct was seen as justifying her dismissal, resulting in a reduction in her award by 100%. The Claimant’s claim for wrongful dismissal was not upheld by the tribunal who found that the Respondent was entitled to dismiss her without notice as she had repudiated her contract.

The tribunal also found that the dismissal was unfair due to failings in the way the allegations were handled. There were delays and possible issues around impartiality in the handling of the proceedings and response to the Claimant’s appeal.

However, the Claimant was found to be culpable by her behaviour which amounted to trust being destroyed going to the root of the employment relationship. The tribunal considered that this conduct and its effect deserved a 100% reduction which was seen as just and equitable on the facts of this case. 

Our Lawyers View

Steve Norton, Lawyer at Redmans says, “In this case, the behaviour and actions of the Claimant completely wiped her right to compensation resulting in a pyrrhic victory only.

For more information on unfair dismissals, click here.