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When an employee raises a grievance against another member of staff, it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that they investigate the matter thoroughly and take the appropriate action in accordance with the law.

In a recent case that has been widely reported in the national media, we represented the manager of a well-known Cardiff club who was allegedly assaulted at their company Christmas party by another member of staff and suffered potentially life changing injuries.

We are absolutely thrilled for Mollys’ success at the Employment Tribunal and delighted to have been able to support her at such a difficult time.

The Facts of the Case

Molly started working for the Cameo Club on 21st September 2015. She began as a waitress and displayed a good work ethic so was promoted to Supervisor, then Assistant Manager and in January 2018 to General Manager. She resigned on 29th May 2018.

On 1st January 2018, Molly attended a staff party at the Cameo’s Wellfield Road premises. Just before everyone was getting ready to leave, Molly had to be taken to A&E. She didn’t know what happened to her at the time, but a few days later she saw from CCTV footage that she had collapsed immediately after her colleague put his arm around her neck in a headlock and noticeably squeezed her. 

Having seen the CCTV, Molly believed that she had been choked unconscious by her colleague and then hit her head on a fridge as she collapsed.

Molly informed her employer of what she discovered. However, she had also just been promoted and had a long-awaited mortgage offer approved so she could buy her first house. As a result, she didn’t want any trouble and said that she didn’t want anything done. Privately however, she continued to be troubled by the events because of the injuries she sustained.

In January, Molly’s employer took her at her word and did not investigate any further or take any action. In March 2018, Molly raised the issue with her employers again. She did so because in the space of that week, she had been informed that her injuries may be permanent, had witnessed the same colleague who choked her acting aggressively towards an unknown young lady on a staff night out, and had also been told that the same colleague who choked her had laced another employee’s soup with chilli out of spite.

She realised the seriousness of what had happened, was worried that her colleague who choked her was in fact violent and decided she needed to take it further because she felt vulnerable around him.

Molly tried to raise it informally at first. She was initially encouraged because her employer appeared supportive during the first discussion. Unfortunately, as the weeks went by nothing happened and Molly continued to feel worse and worse, ending up in tears before, during and after work. On 18th April, Molly was told by her employer to “get over it”.

After hearing this, Molly decided to put her complaint on a formal written footing to see whether her employers would take her concerns more seriously. Her grievance was rejected. Molly was not told why. The grievance officer did not (as Molly suggested she should) review the CCTV footage.

Strangely, the grievance officer was close to tears when informing Molly of the decision and Molly felt this was an indication that the grievance officer was not impartial and did not agree with the decision itself. Molly handed her notice of resignation that same day, having lost all trust and confidence in her employer.


The Tribunal’s Judgment

The employment tribunal found that her employer did not properly investigate her concerns at the time she raised them. Even though initially, she did not want her employer to investigate, in March that all changed.

Molly’s reasons for the delay in raising her concerns were accepted by the tribunal as reasonable and the bottom line was that when she raised her concerns again in March, she was feeling vulnerable. The tribunal found an inextricable link between the incident at the party and the workplace, even though it happened off duty.

Once Molly raised concerns, it was incumbent on her employer to investigate the matter further as a disciplinary issue. The real question was whether she had been assaulted and what (if any) action the employer should take, given Molly’s evident psychological reaction to being near her assailant.

The tribunal criticised Molly’s employer for having formed their own views of the cause of her injuries and her motivation for raising a grievance. The tribunal found that it was only open to her employer to take a view after it had impartially gathered the facts via an investigation. But in this case, Molly’s employer had acted in a way which was dismissive of Molly’s feelings from April.

By failing to revert to Molly with information gathered about the incidents complained of, the employer started to erode Molly’s confidence that her concerns were taken seriously.

By simply taking a defensive stance, the employer did not go any way to addressing Molly’s concerns and by implication the employer’s actions suggested that they either thought Molly was lying, or that she was exaggerating the incident for gain.
The formal grievance investigation omitted key evidence, such as viewing the CCTV footage, speaking to Molly’s colleague who choked her or making independent enquiries which resolved disputes of fact between witnesses.

The grievance officer did not appear to be impartial and outside the influence of the company directors and did not conduct her own independent assessment of the matter. The conduct of Molly’s employer was found by the tribunal to be a repudiatory breach of the contract of employment, entitling Molly to resign and treat herself as constructively dismissed.


Our Comment on This Case

If Molly’s employer had not jumped to premature conclusions and allowed those conclusions to influence their handling of her internal complaints, this might have been a very different story. But in the circumstances as they were, Molly showed admirable resolve and courage.

She appropriately raised and escalated her concerns via her employer’s grievance process, but the key problem in this case was that she was not taken seriously. When she realised, she could not find a satisfactory resolution internally, she stood up for her principles and was not too intimidated to either resign or to take on the stressful experience of a tribunal claim.

Molly Phillips contacted us after she had decided to resign from her job at the Cameo Club and had already commenced employment tribunal proceedings for constructive unfair dismissal.

Molly is a role model for those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in a similar situation. We are tremendously proud to have been able to support and assist her in her employment tribunal claim.


Have You Suffered Similar Circumstances?

If you or someone you know has a grievance against their employer, it is very important that the correct legal advice is sought. Please contact our employee law solicitors in Cardiff who will be happy to help.

With effect from 15th February 2015 EU Regulations on Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) allow consumers who bought our services online to submit their complaint via an online complaint portal.

We are required under the regulations to provide our clients the following information:-
  1. Link to the ODR platform - please follow the following link for further information (
  2. Our contact email address in case of a complaint under the ODR regulation – Andrea Coombes