Grievance Case Study

Grievance Case Study

A tribunal found that an employee at a casino that was ostracised by colleagues after raising grievances about her manager had valid claims for race and age discrimination, victimisation, and constructive unfair dismissal

The Case

Ms Leher is of mixed black African heritage and was 40 years old when employed at a casino. She had applied for promotion (and been rejected) 8 times during her employment. Ms Leher raised a grievance after one of the unsuccessful attempts, alleging that (contrary to the company’s Equality and Diversity Policy) a younger, white colleague was promoted to cash desk supervisor without vacancy being advertised or Ms Leher having an opportunity to apply. The grievance was not upheld

She raised a second grievance, alleging that she had been victimised because of her first grievance by being ignored by her colleagues, and suffering ongoing discrimination in promotion. The HR Director did not uphold the second grievance, and used a ‘veiled threat’ that she may be disciplined if she continued to claim she was being discriminated against and further grievances were not substantiated

Ms Leher also alleged that she was given ‘short changeover’ shifts more frequently than other colleagues, was not given handover information, had training requests ignored (despite the same training being given to a younger white colleague at the time), and after raising the grievances was the only person excluded from ‘after work drinks’ by her colleagues. She resigned from the casino (stating it had become “intolerable” working in that environment) and brought a claim of age and race discrimination, victimisation and harassment, and constructive dismissal

The Tribunal Decision

The tribunal found that Ms Leher claims were all just and valid, awarding her £74,113 in compensation. Other findings were:

  • The failure to provide the training requested to Ms Leher, but provide it to a younger white colleague, amounted to direct age and race discrimination
  • The different negative treatment that Ms Leher received after raising a grievance was found to be as a direct result of that grievance (from the evidence provided to the tribunal) and so an act of victimisation by the company
  • Ms Leher being ostracised as the only person not invited to after work drinks by her colleagues (and managers in the company being fully aware of this) amounted to harassment
  • The tribunal concluded that the overall behaviour displayed (or allowed to take place) by the employer was the reason that Ms Leher resigned and as such her claim for constructive unfair dismissal was successful

Case Summary

This case clearly shows that the behaviour and decision making of managers within the company can have an enormous impact on employee wellbeing and the risk of various tribunal claims. In particular, the need to asses grievance claims fairly and subjectively, and not allow someone raising a grievance to be treated less favourably as a result of that by either the manager or the employee’s colleagues

It also highlights the importance of a fair and reasonable investigation into any complaints made using a clearly defined grievance procedure in order to avoid costly tribunal claims

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