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Mental health practitioner awarded £60K for unfair dismissal after flawed investigation into allegations of inappropriate and sexual remarks

In the case of Mr A G v City of York Council the career of Mr. AG, a seasoned mental health professional with nearly 23 years of unblemished service, was abruptly halted. The catalyst was a formal complaint lodged by a colleague who accused Mr AG of making various inappropriate comments and remarks tinged with sexual innuendo.

In the case of Mr A G v City of York Council the career of Mr. AG, a seasoned mental health professional with nearly 23 years of unblemished service, was abruptly halted. The catalyst was a formal complaint lodged by a colleague who accused Mr AG of making various inappropriate comments and remarks tinged with sexual innuendo.

The City of York Council, acting on these allegations, suspended Mr AG followed by dismissal for gross misconduct after a disciplinary hearing. The council’s decision was rooted in findings that Mr AG had engaged in unwanted innuendo and comments perceived as sexist, a conclusion that Mr AG contested, leading to an appeal—which was subsequently denied.

However, upon reviewing the case, the employment tribunal identified several critical shortcomings in the council’s handling of the investigation. Moreover, the tribunal criticized the investigation’s lack of rigor, pointing out that the allegations of innuendo and inappropriate jokes were accepted without substantive inquiry. The tribunal underscored that the investigation failed to meet reasonable standards, lacking in specificity and failing to probe the context and intent behind the alleged remarks. Consequently, the tribunal concluded that the council’s decision to summarily dismiss Mr AG was not founded on a reasonable and thorough investigation, deeming the dismissal both wrongful and unfair.

The tribunal’s decision not only vindicates Mr. AG but also sets a precedent for the conduct of workplace investigations. Mr AG was awarded a total of £60,700 in compensation, which included a significant sum for pension loss, underscoring the tribunal’s recognition of the impact of the council’s flawed decision on Mr AG’s career and reputation. This case serves as a cautionary tale for employers, highlighting the necessity of conducting diligent and fair investigations into allegations of misconduct. It reinforces the principle that employees are entitled to a fair hearing and that conclusions must be based on solid evidence rather than assumptions or incomplete inquiries.

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