Mrs Margaret Chadwick, 58, won over £50,000 in the Bury St Edmunds Employment Tribunal after she claimed that she had been unfairly dismissed from her job as Assistant Secretary at the Aldeburgh Golf Club, Sussex, for raising concerns about the behaviour of another member of staff, Club Secretary Bill Beckett.
Mrs Chadwick raised her concerns after rumours started that Mr Beckett, 69, had engaged in allegedly inappropriate behaviour with a married female member of the club at a club barbeque in August 2012. She claimed that she later overheard the female member telling Mr Beckett: “Bill, everyone loved the barbeque and I loved squeezing your bottom. Let me squeeze it again.” Mrs Chadwick discussed her concerns with other senior members but felt that she had been “criticized and bullied” by members of staff for doing so and submitted a formal complaint to Club Captain Mr Steve Beaumont. However, Mr Beaumont failed to investigate her grievance, stating that: “I do not regard Bill Beckett’s behaviour to be bullying and there has been no physical violence.” Mrs Chadwick was disciplined for discussing the matter and was dismissed for gross misconduct in October 2012. She subsequently made a claim for unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal, claiming that her former employer had failed to carry out a proper and fair investigation and, further, that the decision to dismiss her was unreasonable.
The claim came to the Bury St Edmunds Employment Tribunal earlier this year, with Employment Judge Robin Postle chairing the Tribunal. The Employment Tribunal ruled in Mrs Chadwick’s favour in her claim for unfair dismissal, finding the following:
- That Mr Steve Beaumont was “ignorant and naive” and that he should have investigated Mrs Chadwick’s complaints further
- That there had been a “witch-hunt” at the club and that the club’s investigation into the allegations against Mrs Chadwick was “one-sided” and its findings “irrational and unreasonable”
The Employment Tribunal awarded Mrs Chadwick £50,000 compensation for lost earnings for her unfair dismissal claim.
Mrs Chadwick stated after the hearing: “I’m not jumping for joy – I would rather have kept my job. But here we are and at least justice has been done.” She also stated that she had been through a “terrible ordeal”.
Captain Tim Rowan-Robinson, speaking for the golf club, said the tribunal was “disappointing”, adding: “The club refutes claims over secretary Bill Beckett’s behaviour, which was fully investigated at the time.”
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take steps to investigate into and adjudicate upon grievances and disciplinaries in a fair and proper manner or they risk a claim for unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal.”