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The firm agreed, but placed Mrs Starritt with a different solicitor, whose files were in disorder. She would have to lift heavy files, which her doctor advised against, and so she emailed a complaint to Mr Galvin, a consultant solicitor with the firm.
Mr Galvin replied that he found the tone of the e-mail “rude” and “offensive,” and that he had referred Mrs Starritt to the management board because of it, which in effect meant she was being put through a disciplinary procedure.
Mrs Starritt resigned and brought a claim for unfair constructive dismissal against the practice. In an astonishing twist at the Employment Tribunal hearing, Mr Galvin admitted that he had lied in the memo that led to Mrs Starritt’s resignation. He had not, in fact, referred Mrs Starritt to the management board at all and blamed his choice of words on a “knee-jerk reaction.”
Mrs Starritt was found to have been unfairly dismissed and was awarded a year’s salary of around £12,000, which the Employment Judge increased by the maximum 25 per cent, plus the maximum award of £10,000 towards legal costs.
Commenting on the Employment Tribunal’s decision, a Partner with the firm said:
“Regrettably, in some cases, employment relationships do not work out and we were very disappointed with the result of the case.”
This was a ‘bluff gone wrong’, and the employer was fortunate that the ex-employee did not claim disability discrimination.
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