Refuse collector awarded £20,000 after unfair dismissal

A council worker has been awarded £20,000 and reinstated in his role after the Employment Tribunal decided he had been unfairly dismissed.

The case involved Colin Hart, a refuse collector working for Glasgow City Council.

He was a member of a team based at the St Rollox Depot. There was an equivalent team based at the city’s Western Depot. They generally carried out the same duties in their own territories but were required to support each other when necessary.

A dispute occurred when Hart’s team required assistance on a job but believed the Western team had purposely taken their tea break at the incorrect time to avoid helping with the work.

A confrontation took place between Hart and a member of the Western team, Mr Ryan.

Another Western team member, Mr Russell, arrived at the scene and said Ryan was holding the side of his face as if he had been hit.

Russell tried to calm Hart down, but said he went to his vehicle and returned with a ball-pein hammer and said “don’t think I won’t” before returning to his vehicle.

The council suspended Hart following initial statements from Ryan and Russell.

An investigation into the incident was conducted by a line manager at the Western Depot.

Hart denied he ever hit Ryan and claimed the incident with the hammer “never happened”.

Mr Russell responded with “no comment” to all questions he was asked.

Ryan did not say he had been assaulted and other workers present said they had seen no assault or hammer in the confrontation.

The investigator concluded that the employees were “trying to play down” the severity of the incident and recommended disciplinary action be taken against Hart. He was dismissed by the council at a later meeting.

However, the tribunal ruled that Hart be paid £20,126 and re-instated as an employee with all rights and privileges. 

It heard that the investigation was not aware Russell had wanted to withdraw his statement, for fear of facing disciplinary action himself for providing false information.

Judge Wiseman said the disciplinary process appeared to “blindly” rely on and accept Russell’s initial statement without testing it or considering other evidence.

 

Case details

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS (SCOTLAND)
S/4103298/2018
September 2018
Employment Judge: Lucy Wiseman
Mr Colin Hart v Glasgow City Council

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