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November 28, 2019

Financial Advisor Constructively Dismissed

After taking his employer to an Employment Tribunal, Peter Ward, a Financial Advisor who had been with his company since 2009, has been awarded over £17,000 in compensation after the judge ruled Mr. Ward had been unfairly dismissed.

The Employment Tribunal deemed that Mr. Ward was constructively and unfairly dismissed after he refused to sign an agreement after he had resigned, which would have extended his post-termination restrictive covenants from 12 months to 24 months.

After Mr. Ward resigned, he had a meeting with a director of his firm, whom, according to Mr. Ward, applied excessive force in order to push him to sign an extension agreement to his already 12-month post-termination restrictive covenants, increasing it to 24 months. During the meeting, the hostility increased with the director acting ‘increasingly aggressively’ according to Mr. Ward. Mr. Ward stated that he felt ‘intimidated and harassed’ and on two occasions considered ending the meeting.

Mr. Ward told the tribunal that he was ‘shaking and reduced to tears in front of his colleagues, he called another director who suggested that Mr. Ward ‘go through him’ from then on. Not long after this, Mr. Ward received a call from Openwork (a compliance service provider to Mr. Ward’s company) regarding a potential compliance breach.

Mr. Ward was then subsequently invited to a meeting with the director to discuss this ‘breach’ where the director made allegations of gross misconduct and negligence, including that Mr. Ward had been using the company computer for personal reasons and for not disclosing being the beneficiary of a previous client’s will.

Following this meeting, Mr. Ward was sent a draft agreement that would extend his already 12-month restrictive covenant to 24 months. The tribunal heard from Mr. Ward that he was put under a huge amount of pressure to sign the document but never did. Subsequently, Mr. Ward submitted a second resignation letter and left with immediate effect.

The Tribunal judge said that he was satisfied that the meeting that took place to make Mr. Ward agree to the extension constituted bullying and intimidating behaviour and that his employer made ‘false and spurious allegations’ against him in order to pressure him into agreeing to the terms of the extension to the restrictive covenants. 

The tribunal judge ruled that the accusation of gross misconduct and negligence relating to the ‘compliance breach’ were ‘totally disingenuous’ because if they had been real, they would have reported them to the Financial Conduct Authority, however, there is no evidence of this.

The Employment tribunal ordered Mr. Ward’s employer to compensate to him to the amount of £17,199.12.

Caroline Wood, Director of HR Heroes says that trying to force an employee to sign more onerous restrictive covenants subsequent to a resignation is never a good idea – what employee is going to agree to that! The tactic of bullying and harassing an employee to do so has now only served to cost the employer time, money and a serious blot on their reputation.

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