Legal Professional Fairly Dismissed For Intimidating Colleagues

| General

Legal Professional Fairly Dismissed For Intimidating Colleagues

Working life comes with pressure from many quarters. Externally from clients, third parties and stakeholders and Internally from challenging targets, increasing workloads and colleagues. However, the ideal legal professional manages this pressure and acts professionally. They should be approachable, friendly and composed under pressure.

However, in mid-June 2022 news emerged of a staff member working in a law firm who had been dismissed by his employer for demonstrating behaviour which was seemingly the opposite of that expected. The employee was employed as a handler of telephone calls for just under one year. However, colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in the following respects:

  • the way the legal professional was behaving towards them in the workplace
  • the unapproachable and intimidating way he was acting and
  • how seemingly disrespectful he was being around his colleagues.

Who The F@#% Finds Me Intimidating?

Ideally, employers want a happy and productive workforce. If there is a problem then employers should investigate them. This case was no different and on receiving the allegations the employer has seemingly invited the employee to attend an informal investigatory private meeting. It was an opportunity for both employers to put the allegations to the employee, for the employee to have the right to reply and for both parties to discuss any identified issues which might have arisen in the meeting. However, this is where the case became interesting.

When the employee attended the meeting the allegations were put to him. The employee’s reaction to the allegations was somewhat extraordinary as instead of calmly answering the allegations he responded in the following manner:

  • seeing red
  • appearing to lose his temper
  • flew into an angry rage and raised his voice
  • mannerisms to demonstrate his anger at the allegations, such as screwing up his face, growling and clenching his fists.

The behaviour by the employee was interpreted to be so unreasonable that the employer was becoming more and more concerned about how the colleague may conduct himself in future. The decision-makers within the organisation were becoming increasingly worried about the likelihood of the legal professional:

  • becoming physically violent towards his colleagues in the workplace
  • inflicting significant damage to business property company and
  • seemingly acting progressively more disruptive in the vicinity of the workplace.

What Did The Employer Decide?

The respective employer considered all the evidence in front of it and due to the extent to of the legal professional’s behaviour being so unprofessional that it had no feasible alternative but to arrive at the difficult decision to terminate the employee’s employment with the company by way of summary dismissal.

Did The Employee Calmly Walk Away?

Here a reasonable response would have been for the employee to accept that things have not worked out, walked away, put it down to life experience and learn lessons for future employment opportunities. However, this is not what happened here. Whilst collecting his belongings he noisily conducted himself, attempted to delete computer files and inexplicably confronted his colleagues by shouting aggressively to everyone in the workplace, ‘who the f%&@ finds me intimidating?’

What Did The Judge Say?

The employee claimed that he was not allowed to reply and he was employment terminated ‘on the spot’. The Employment Tribunal held that the employer on the evidence was entitled to summarily dismiss the employee.

Lessons For Legal Professionals?

Legal professionals should be conducting themselves in a professional manner whereby clients, internal colleagues and external stakeholders would expect. They should act in an approachable, friendly and composed way to uphold the public image of the profession.

The Legists Content Team

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] Hyde, John – Firm was right to sack ‘rude and aggressive’ employee – Law Society Gazette - 16 June 2022 - Firm was right to sack ‘rude and aggressive’ employee | News | Law Gazette

[2] Mr James Taylor V Satchell Moran Solicitors Limited – Case Number 2401501/2021 - Mr_J_Taylor_v_Satchell_Moran_Solicitors_Limited_-_2401501_2021.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)

[3] Peek, Sean – Disrespectful Employees? How to Fix a Toxic Workplace – 29 June 2022 – Business Daily News - How to Deal With Disrespectful Employees - businessnewsdaily.com

[4] Fuscaldo, Donna – Here’s Why Your Business Needs a Termination Policy – 29 June 2022 – Business News Daily - How to Develop a Termination Policy - businessnewsdaily.com

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