When an Asda employee, Adnan Malik, was dismissed for gross misconduct after bullying and harassing a colleague in public, he claimed he was unfairly dismissed due to a disability – his stammer.
Reading Employment Tribunal heard that Mr Malik, who defended himself, bullied and harassed his cousin and former colleague Amna Sarwar in a dispute over money. The court also heard that in July a customer witnessed Mr Malik speaking to Ms Sarwar in a loud and threatening manner.
Both the customer and Ms Sarwar made complaints to Asda about Mr Malik’s behaviour. Mr Malik claimed there was a failure to understand that his stammer caused him to raise his voice and gesture wildly.
In addition to complaining to Asda, Ms Sarwar went to the police with allegations of harassment.
Asda said irrespective of his stammer, its decision to dismiss Mr Malik was made on the basis of his actions towards his cousin.
The Employment Tribunal found in favour of Asda dismissing Mr Malik’s claims.
Whether or not Mr Malik’s case on paper seemed fairly robust the fact that it comes with a ‘discrimination’ tag seems to mean an ET will likely process the matter through to a court for hearing. A small business would face the pressure on their scarcer resources (at least when compared to Asda’s) in considering whether to stand up for themselves, or pay the ex-employee off on pragmatic business grounds. At present thecost of an (ex)employee making a claim (see out news about next year’s changes) and defending themselves will be negligible when compared to defence costs faced by an employer.
We have no magic solution to the court processes – where we can help is … if you think you may have, or know that you do have a problem, give us a ring at the office on 0845 462 3231. At the very least, we can talk through your proposed process and let you know the small things you can do that may make a difference and start to position things from the beginning.
For any of our clients, once they have considered the entire situation and discussed options, whether the decision is to defend at ET, or pragmatically settle, we work that through to conclusion.