Employee, 20, branded ‘spoilt’ and punched by boss wins unfair dismissal claim

·3-min read
Former factory operative Jake Rawnsley left Leicester-based window and manufacturing firm, QAS in October 2019
Former factory operative Jake Rawnsley left Leicester-based window and manufacturing firm, QAS in October 2019. (Google)

A 20-year-old man, who was branded a "spoilt child" and punched by his boss, has won an unfair dismissal claim and been awarded almost £8,000.

Former factory operative Jake Rawnsley left Leicester-based window and manufacturing firm, QAS in October 2019 after he clashed with the company director, Antony Beall.

Rawnsley sued the company for age discrimination, unfair dismissal, holiday pay and notice pay. 

He told the tribunal his former boss lost his temper during a disagreement on 17 October over who should be cleaning up the work area. 

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Beall then struck Rawnsley's face, pushed him and told him to leave the premises, the tribunal heard.

The 20-year-old left work, writing on his clocking out card: “Attacked by owner. No longer feel safe here!”

Rawnsley said he then went to his GP and was given a note signing him off with stress.

The tribunal heard how later that day Beall sent a text message to the 20-year-old saying: “Jake, this is Tony. Apologies for my half in our incident.

"It is my intention to pay you for today and tomorrow and you can resume work Monday. I will assume if I don't hear from you and you don't show Monday you have decided to move on. 

“I will need a change in attitude from you and I am willing to work with you on this. This is called a cooling off period".

But Rawnsley did not respond to Beall’s text message, the tribunal heard.

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The company director sent him a letter four days later, in which he called Rawnsley a “jumped up, know it all, spoilt child”. 

The letter also said: "The QAS official position is as of today you have resigned, should this not be the case you would be dismissed for gross insubordination."

Judge Brewer, who oversaw the employment tribunal, ruled that Beall’s actions were “a clear breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.”

Rawnsley was awarded £7,949.96 including £1,000 for injury to feelings as well as two weeks' notice pay, four days holiday pay, a basic award of £780 and a compensatory award of £4,651.56.

He had also sued for age discrimination, saying that Beall punched him because of how young he was, but this was only partly upheld by the judge.

Beall denied that the assault was a direct act of age discrimination as he had had at least one other similar confrontation with a person older than his former employee.

Beall also claimed that he meant the 20-year-old's behaviour was "like" a spoilt child, but this was refuted by the tribunal.

But Brewer said: "We consider this comment to fall into the category of inherently discriminatory conduct.

"In other words, it is obvious to the tribunal why the claimant received the less favourable treatment, his age, and for that reason this claim succeeds."

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The employment judge also said: "The tribunal is firmly of the view that an assault on a subordinate by a Managing Director who then pushes him towards the door telling him to go amounts to a clear breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

"Thus, the respondent was in fundamental breach of contract, the claimant was entitled to resign and to treat himself as having been dismissed.

"It was also clear to the tribunal from all of the evidence that no suggestion was raised that the cause of the resignation was anything other than Mr Beall's conduct on 17 October 2019."

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