Compensation Wake-up Following a Working Nightmare

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Sometimes life deals you a heavy blow. One minute everything can be ok but then, suddenly, the world as you know it comes crashing down around you owing to no fault of your own.

Employment Law Solicitors

This is precisely what happened to GMB member, Steve Conway. He was employed for over 30 years as a clothing salesman at Bikes of Brighton, a small retail business specialising in motorbikes and related products.

By all accounts, Mr Conway was an excellent salesman. He primarily sold stock from supplier company Nevis Marketing. Managing Director of Nevis, Robert Culverwell, said, "Steve Conway is so enthusiastic about Nevis – he loves the product. If I could bottle his enthusiasm, I could market it. He is absolutely committed to the product and we likewise trusted him."

However, in August 2012, Bikes of Brighton owner, Patrick O’Sullivan asked Mr Conway to assist at another store doing work such as answering the telephone and sweeping the floor. When Mr Conway expressed his concerns, the employment relationship broke down.

Mr Conway then found himself accused of a string of allegations including serious negligence, breach of confidence, theft, dishonesty and loss of stock.

Mr Conway stated, "I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had been doing this job for over 30 years, since I turned 17, and I just couldn’t believe it."

Mr Conway’s GMB representative, Richard Warren, stated, "Sadly, it was clear to me from quite early on that Patrick O’Sullivan, was intent on sacking Steve on trumped up charges."

When he was ultimately dismissed, Mr Conway said, "The world stopped for me. Everything froze. My only thought was how I was ever going to get another job with those sorts of allegations hanging over me."

With the GMB’s support, Steve Conway then sued Patrick O’Sullivan and Bikes of Brighton for unfair dismissal.

Following a 3-day battle in court, the Croydon Employment Tribunal held that there was no credible or consistent evidence that Mr Conway was guilty of any misconduct.

The Tribunal further held, in relation to the disciplinary procedure used to dismiss Mr Conway, "It is difficult to imagine a more unfair process and procedure."

In response to the judgment, Mr Conway said, "I feel like I have finally woken up from a nightmare. I feel exonerated by the Judge who said that my evidence was consistent and credible and that I was an honest witness."

This is in sharp contrast to the Bikes of Brighton witnesses who the Tribunal found to be 'wholly inconsistent and unreliable.'

Mr Conway was awarded in excess of £15k in compensation. He is now working at another motorcycle shop in Worthing.

He says, "When you pay your monthly trade union membership fee, you never think that something like this will happen to you. I now know how important it is for the average person to have union back-up. It would have been a very lonely place without the GMB supporting me. The support from the GMB was absolutely outstanding and I will be a GMB member for the rest of my life."

Richard Warren of the GMB said, "This goes to prove that the trade union movement is a worthwhile commitment to make throughout your working life. The things highlighted above could happen to anybody."


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