I heard a story today about an ET case that took an interesting turn.
The case related to discrimination. The employee (we’ll call him Jim) had been bullied and discriminated against for many years by a manager (we’ll call her Flora). I once employed a HR Manager who had been bullied by Flora and I spent the best part of two years trying to pick up the pieces. So I was aware of her reputation, but I had never met her.
What frustated me is that “everybody” knew that Flora was a bully, but the senior leadership team at that Trust seemed to be blind to her behaviour. Flora helped a lot of under-performers “move-on”, and perhaps this is the reason why?
Jim decided to tackle this issue head-on by submitting an ET1 claiming discrimination. Not only did Jim need to demonstrate to the Tribunal that he had been discriminated against, but that he had been subject to less favourable treatment as a result.
The case was listed for a hearing, and witnesses were called. Flora’s line-manager took the stand, and said:
Yes, Jim had been discriminated against….but Flora behaved like this with everybody.
In other words, the Trust admitted to the Tribunal that Flora was a known bully, and that she bullied a lot of people. The Trust won their case, as Jim could not prove that he had been subjected to less favourable treatment. Everyone had been treated badly by Flora.
Whilst this was an interesting legal move for the Trust, what benefits did it bring? And now that Flora is a known bully, what actions are the Trust going to take?
I don’t know Jim, but I can imagine that taking the Trust to a Tribunal was a very difficult decision to make, and I applaud him for it. I’m just sorry that some clever lawyers found a way to defend the Trust which, in the end, does not benefit anybody.