Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Mrs Lovelady v Mrs Fowler trading as Daniel James (1600788/2019) the Employment Tribunal held that the dismissing employer had had a ‘closed mind’ as to whether there was any option other than dismissal, and therefore upheld the employee’s Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

The facts of the case

Mrs Lovelady (the ‘Claimant’) was a beauty therapist and hairdresser who worked for Mrs Fowler trading as Daniel James (the ‘Respondent’).  She was employed from 23 March 2016 and had a period of maternity leave from February 2018 to 6 November 2018.

The Respondent was a sole trader and small employer.  She did not have any formal policies and procedures in place to deal with things like disciplinaries.  Two of the Claimant’s colleagues made it known to the Respondent that they found the Claimant to be intimidating, unfairly critical and reported that she ‘was offensive in her tone and attitude’.  At least two costumers also complained about her inappropriate conversations which ‘mainly consisted of vulgar toilet talk and discussions of a sexual nature’.

The Respondent spoke to the Claimant on at least three occasions informally about her behaviour towards her colleagues and what was considered to be inappropriate behaviour in front of customers, however there was no formal or informal warnings issued.

Upon returning from maternity leave the Claimant was upset about a reduction in her hours.  A work colleague of the Claimant’s complained that she was exerting pressure on them to reduce their hours so she could do more.  Things came to a head when the Respondent went on holiday for a week.  One of the Claimant’s colleagues sent a WhatsApp message to the Respondent complaining about the Claimant’s behaviour saying she had been ‘a bit of a bully this week’.  The Respondent replied to say she was ‘not pleased’ and that she was upset with the Claimant about her behaviour.

Upon her return the Respondent met with the Claimant on 11 February 2019 and then wrote to her advising her that she would be suspended pending an investigation into gross misconduct.  She then sent the Claimant the results of the investigation on 15 February 2019 and invited her to a meeting on 18 February.  In that letter the Respondent failed to give the Claimant dates of the alleged incidents, exact words spoken, or the conduct complained of. The letter stated at the end that ‘a decision as to whether there is reason to continue to disciplinary proceedings will be made after the meeting’.

The Respondent investigated the allegations and interviewed staff.  Her husband was present at the interviews.  A meeting was held on the 18th February, but again the Claimant was not provided with any evidence or substantive details as to the allegations she was facing and at the end of the meeting was advised that the Respondent and her husband would now decide whether or not she was to be dismissed.  The Claimant was shocked about this as she had not understood that her job was at risk.

The Respondent wrote to the Claimant on 19 February 2019 advising her that she was being summarily dismissed because of the allegations.  She was advised of her right to appeal and the Claimant did appeal, but late.  The Respondent was also the appeal’s officer and refused to accept the Claimant’s late appeal.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal (ET)

The ET held that the Claimant had been unfairly dismissed.  They found that the Respondent had already made up her mind about the Claimant and the allegations as evidenced by the WhatsApp message she sent, and this was unfair to the Claimant.  She also failed to follow a fair, transparent and objective disciplinary procedure. She was in effect the investigation officer, dismissing officer and appeals officer.  She did not give any consideration to the appointment of an outsider or third-party investigator or disciplinary hearing chairperson.   Whilst the summary dismissal of an employee who was bullying and intimidating colleagues was potentially within the band of reasonable responses of a reasonable employer, here the Respondent has simply taken sides and reached a conclusion without a thorough and fair investigation, consideration of any defence or mitigating circumstances.  She had also failed consider options short of summary dismissal.

The ET went on to limit the Claimant’s award to four weeks which they considered to be the period it would have taken to dismiss the Claimant fairly.

Our solicitors’ views on the case of Mrs Lovelady v Mrs Fowler trading as Daniel James

Sacha Barrett, a Senior Associate in the employment department at Redmans, made the following comment on the case: ‘This case demonstrates the difficulty small businesses can have in following a fair dismissal procedure where the business is owner operated.  The importance of taking proper legal advice and considering alternative options such as outsourcing investigations or appeals cannot be underestimated.’

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Mrs Lovelady v Mrs Fowler trading as Daniel James (1600788/2019) can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

164 Reviews

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 weeks ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Ahmed S

They are always on hand when you need them and provide support even when its not necessary.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Nemen S

Wonderful experience.Chris was very responsive and provided an excellent service. A real professional who I would recommend to anyone

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Their guidance was clear and they provided me with all the information I required. Friendly yet professional

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris @ Redmans assisted me with an employment issue. Firstly, he was very proactive in coming back to my initial enquiry and then helped to clearly lay out the options that I had in relation to my position. He then assisted with the preparation of my case, which led to a very satisfactory outcome. I would highly recommend the quality of service & professionalism offered by Redmans Solicitors.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Great service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris was very effective and decisive in dealing with my matter. I felt guided, and the pressure to make decisions was taken off my shoulders; he knew what needed to be done and I was happy to follow his advice. The result of the legal dispute was a great success for me. He is also kind and personable. The only thing that I would say it could be improved, is the accuracy of cost estimation at the beginning: not many activites, that could not have been forseen had to take place, but costs went up more than double in the end. Overall very good and trustworthy. I would definately recommend and use Redmans services again.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Liz P

An excellent professional service was provided by Chris Hadrill and Mel Chin. Efficient and trustworthy - would highly recommend this company.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors were great. They were able to advice me quickly and efficiently! I would recommend them, as a good solicitors to use.

Posted 1 month ago