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Case Study: Mills & Boon?

The Client
A small charitable trust whose Chair had received a complaint of bullying against the Society Director from one of the employees.

The Challenge
The Chair of the Society had received a detailed complaint listing a diary of events which appeared to indicate systematic bullying of one member of staff who was sensitive about being overweight. The Chair was not familiar with the procedures she was required to follow and needed help to investigate the complaint. She contacted Helen Astill of Cherington HR, who had previously provided some HR support in relation to another staffing matter.

The Solution
Helen interviewed the employee who had raised the complaint and the other witnesses involved. She gathered all the evidence and submitted a comprehensive report of her findings to the Chair; guided the Chair through the Grievance Hearing; advised her on her options; and drafted the resulting outcome letter once the Chair had made her decision.

The Results
The investigation revealed that the complaint was a work of fiction - it consisted of a diary of events that could not physically have taken place. It was subsequently discovered that the employee wrote romantic fiction in her spare time and clearly her imagination had been working overtime! The grievance was not upheld and the Society Director was exonerated. The employee realised that having made serious, but unfounded accusations against her fellow workers, it would be difficult for her to return and so she resigned - a story that did not have a happy ending for her.

Key words: Grievance; Bullying; Investigation; Report and Document Drafting; Procedural Support

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