A manager who was sacked after her boss got angry she went out for lunch has won more than £11,000.
Tracie Shearwood ‘enormously’ angered managing director Maxine Jones by going out to eat with two colleagues ‘at the height’ of a crisis for the business, an employment tribunal heard.
She saw the meal as ‘disloyalty’ and proof she wasn’t ‘committed’ to her job at Lean Education and Development in Dudley, West Midlands, the hearing was told.
Ms Shearwood was dismissed from the apprenticeship training firm soon afterwards for gross misconduct.
But she has now successfully sued her old employers for unfair dismissal and won £11,885 in compensation.
At the time of the events in July 2018, she had been promoted to Head of Compliance when an audit ‘did not go well’ due to a number of errors in the company’s record keeping.
The hearing was told Ms Jones wrote a ‘dramatic’ email to put pressure on her staff, telling them there was a risk the business would close.
A month later, Ms Shearwood had her printing duties removed over ‘serious errors’, was suspended and invited to a disciplinary meeting.
Ms Shearwood was ‘extremely upset’ by this and filed a grievance. Her suspension was dropped after an investigation.
But the day after her suspension was revoked, she annoyed Ms Jones by leaving work to get lunch with two co-workers.
The hearing was told Ms Jones held a meeting with all three of them and suggested they seek other employment if they were not ‘fully committed and focused’ on their jobs.
Ms Jones saw this as a ‘disloyal act’ and suspended Ms Shearwood again.
She was then fired for gross misconduct following another disciplinary meeting in September 2018, blaming ‘pure negligence’ and errors in her paperwork.
The tribunal ruled the company’s reasons for firing her were not valid, supporting her claim for unfair dismissal.
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