In the case of Romello Shoaib-Brown v IQVIA IES UK Ltd Mr Shoaib-Brown has been awarded compensation of 3 weeks wages totalling £1541.07 after his employer failed to comply with section 10(2A)(a) of the Employment Relations Act 1999 in relation to his right to be accompanied by the companion of his choice at:
- a grievance appeal meeting held on 25 April 2022; and
- a disciplinary hearing held on 6 May 2022.
Mr Shoaib-Brown’s chosen companion was Imran Rehman, a representative from the EFWU trade union. Mr Rehman raised a number of legitimate concerns at the meeting on 9 March 2022 about the extent of the investigation carried out prior to the disciplinary action. He also raised the fact that the invitation to the disciplinary hearing did not attach relevant documents as required by the employer’s own disciplinary policy.
Mr Rehman queried why, if the employer was taking disciplinary action against Mr Shoaib-Brown for not having his camera on at meetings, neither Ms Griffiths (investigator) nor Ms Scott (witness) had their cameras on. Mr Rehman also queried why Ms Griffiths was conducting the disciplinary hearing if she carried out the investigation. This is in line with the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures which refers to best practice being for investigation and disciplinary meetings to be carried out by different individuals. In her interview as part of the grievance process, Ms Scott acknowledged that Mr Rehman’s questions were reasonable.
The employer argued that Mr Shoaib-Brown suffered no loss as he could have been accompanied by a different individual. However, the statutory right is the right to be accompanied by an individual chosen by the employee from within a specified class of individuals. The statutory right does not provide for the employer having a veto over who can accompany the employee.
There was medical evidence that Mr Shoaib-Brown was suffering stress and anxiety and therefore wanted Mr Rehman to continue to represent him as he knew him, had worked with him before and he was familiar with the case.
In these circumstances, Judge Sills was satisfied that the employer’s decision to exclude Mr Shoaib-Brown’s chosen representative from these two meetings did adversely affect him and cause him loss and detriment.
However, while Mr Rehman raised a number of legitimate criticisms, Judge Sills accepted that after the break Mr Rehman did act inappropriately and interrupted Ms Griffiths. When Ms Griffiths raised the fact that she found Mr Rehman to be obstructive, his response was to say, ‘then leave’. Mr Rehman then accused someone of ‘abusing their position’. In these two instances, Mr Rehman was rude at the meeting and the reward was adjusted accordingly from 4 week’s wages to 3.
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