A former working men\’s club steward who was unfairly dismissed by the club Committee has been awarded £21,770 by the Leeds Employment Tribunal.
The Tribunal found that Stephen Heptinstall, 63, of Cleckheaton, had been unfairly dismissed by the Birstall Working Men\’s Club after he was dismissed by the Club\’s management Committee in November 2009 for minor matters which were several months old and had been dealt with at the time.
The Tribunal found that there had been a complete failure in procedure and general fairness by the Club when dismissing Mr Heptinstall, that the Club had failed to follow the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance, breached Mr Heptinstall\’s contract, unlawfully deducted amounts from his wages and failed to pay him in lieu of holiday. The Club had not sought legal representation in defending the claim. The Tribunal awarded Mr Heptinstall the maximum uptake of 25% on the awarded compensation for the failure to follow the ACAS Code of Practice.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Heptinstall, a member of Unite the Union, said he was very happy with the result. \”The award shows clearly that I was not the villain in the piece,\” he said. \”The Committee have the right to get rid of somebody, but it has to be done fairly, and not on a whim. Employers shouldn\’t be able to treat people like that.\”
\”If I hadn\’t been in the Union, and if I\’d had no knowledge of my rights and how to defend them, if I\’d been more placid, some people would have taken full advantage. They can\’t just dominate you. Without the support of the Union, and my solicitor, we\’d have struggled to get justice.\”
Mark Fieldhouse of Unite the Union said he\’d felt it was abundantly clear that Mr Heptinstall had been unfairly treated by the Committee from the first meeting.
\”The Committee were out of their depth in dealing with employment matters and did not listen to any advice from professionals,\” said Mr Fieldhouse, adding that thanks to the Tribunal, \”an injustice has been put right.\”
\”This case proves is that it is always better to be in the Union, whether you are in an organised workplace or not. As was the case with Mr Heptinstall, he was a lone member in a single workplace but still got the full support of the Union,\” said Mr Fieldhouse.
Toni Haynes, solicitor of Morrish Solicitors acting for Mr Heptinstall, said employers have to understand that they must treat their workers fairly.
\”There has been a lot of reporting in the media lately about employers saying that Employment Tribunals are a burden to them. But the fact is that the law states employees are to be treated fairly in the workplace, and there are employers who disregard the law. When the employees can do nothing, the Employment Tribunals can. Employment Tribunals provide access to justice for working people, and for those employers who act fairly and reasonably,\” said Mrs Haynes.
For further information please contact Vanessa Charters at Morrish Solicitors on 0759-5564764.