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Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) have been ordered to pay £230,000 to an employee for unfair dismissal. The court criticised the extreme poor practice and unfairness shown towards Mr Donald Nutt who had worked at the firm for 16 years before his dismissal in October 2014 and who was let go because of “a breakdown in trust and confidence” between him and his employer.
Mr Nutt raised safety issues in 2012 regarding free health checks for night shift workers and also that the company’s night shift structure was causing health problems for workers. He brought a formal grievance which was not upheld. Then in March 2013, Mr Nutt received a poor appraisal report and was informed that he would be getting an informal warning despite having previously received consistently excellent appraisals.
In July 2013, Mr Nutt was signed off from work for two months, due to stress. Upon his return to work a HR partner decided to take a disciplinary action against him. The tribunal found that the HR partner was demanding that Mr Nutt not only accept he was wrong over the night shift complaint but to accept his grievance had been properly investigated. Mr Nutt was then dismissed.
The Employment Tribunal heard how SSE’s HR professionals were demanding that Mr Nutt not only accept throughout that he had been wrong, but also accept a number of factual circumstances that were not true. There had been no investigation into the grievances raised by Mr Nutt and there had been no justifiable reasons for his dismissal. Judge Ian McFatridge commented that the HR process was “reminiscent of a show trial in the former Soviet Union”. The judge said Nutt had been sacked because the business did not know what to do with him and had treated him “appallingly”. SSE were ordered to rehire Mr Nutt, but refused, so his award was increased from £140,000 to £230,000.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Employment Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.