Greater Western Ex-Employee Dismissed Unfairly; ET Says Dismissal was a Disproportionate Response

In the case of Miss C Mills v First Greater Western Ltd, an ex-employee was dismissed unfairly as it was a disproportionate response. However, the claimant’s award was reduced by 50% as the tribunal felt she was bound to face serious disciplinary action at some point due to her conduct.

The Facts in Miss C Mills v First Greater Western Ltd


Miss Mills [“the Claimant”’] commenced employment with First Greater Western Ltd [“the Respondent”] in 2013 initially as a Gateline Assistant. Subsequently, she became a Customer Care Assistant at Reading Station in a “platform role”.

In 2019, the Claimant applied for a Lead Customer Host Role described as an “onboard train role”. Following an incident involving the use of ramps in windy conditions, she was asked to stand down from this role.

In 2020 the Claimant brought proceedings at an Employment Tribunal against the Respondent for disability discrimination.  While she was found to not be disabled, the Claimant reached an ACAS COT3 Agreement with the Respondent on 26 November 2021. She was paid £5,000 to settle her claim without admission of liability. Upon settling, the claimant went back to work in the “onboard role”.

Claimant Returns to Work but is Unhappy with Her Training

The Claimant returned to Greater Western to work and have her training needs assessed in December 2021. Between 31 December 2022 and 4 March 2022, she undertook various training courses, both in person and online. It was agreed that the Claimant would benefit from more ramp training, particularly deploying ramps in windy conditions.

During the training period, the Claimant learned about dynamic risk assessments and how to carry ramps in adverse weather. She was upset as she believed if she had received this training, she would not have been stood down from her previous role in 2019. The Claimant emailed the Director of Human Resources, Ruth Busby, on 15 February 2022, to raise concerns regarding training.

The Claimant further asked for her previous customer care assistant role and salary back. She then continued to refer to the terms of the COT3 Agreement in further emails to the Respondent via their “ask the directors” email address on 10 March 2022, and Subject Access Requests (SAR). Furthermore, she emailed Alok Sharma MP on 22 February 2022 raising similar concerns regarding her lack of ramp training.

Greater Western Employee Warned About Raising Old Matters

After requesting her old role and salary five times, on 11 April 2022, the Respondent wrote back to the Claimant. She was asked to desist from sending emails referring to matters settled in the COT3 Agreement.

On 22 June 2022, the Respondent called the Claimant to a disciplinary meeting for continuing to breach the terms of the COT3 Agreement by sending emails to various members of Greater Western’s management referring to the COT3.

The Claimant then attended the disciplinary on 26 July 2022 and was found guilty of gross misconduct for disregarding a reasonable management request made and raising matters that had been settled under a COT3 agreement. Hence, she was dismissed and the outcome was confirmed by a letter dated 4 August 2022.

On 2 August 2022, the Claimant issued a claim in the Employment Tribunal and sent a letter appealing against her dismissal on 15 August 2022 which was not upheld. Her case was heard between the 23-27 October 2023 to consider the following claims:-

  • That she was unfairly dismissed
  • That she had made a protected disclosure
  • That she had been automatically unfairly dismissed

The Decision of The Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal only upheld one of her claims, unfair dismissal.  The tribunal found that the action of dismissing the Greater Western employee for gross misconduct was outside of the band of reasonable responses.

She clearly had concerns regarding the lack of appropriate training around the use of the ramps in adverse weather conditions. She believed this was instrumental in allowing her the chance to remain in her previous role. The Respondent had failed to deal with these concerns and had resorted to gross misconduct sanctions instead, because of her continuous reference to the COT3 Settlement Agreement in communications.

Having said this, the tribunal recommended a reduction in her compensation by 50%. The tribunal felt it was highly probable that she would have faced serious disciplinary action as she had a series of ongoing issues around her mental health and relationship with colleagues. She also had a continuing inability to move on from past events.

Contact us now if you’ve been unfairly dismissed. Redmans Solicitors can discuss your circumstances and uncover your ability to make an unfair dismissal claim.

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