ET Asks Royal Mail to Compensate an Employee if They Have a “Shred of Decency”

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Photo credits - K Mitch Hodge via Unsplash

After being subject to a bullying campaign and suffering through stress and anxiety, ET has recommended that Royal Mail compensate employees with over £100,00. In the case of Ms K Jhuti v Royal Mail Group Ltd, Ms Jhuti was seen to have suffered because she shed light on some fraudulent activities.

A Brief Timeline of Events

Ms Jhuti started working for Royal Mail sometime in September 2013 as a Media Specialist. In this role, she started shadowing a colleague and noticed fraudulent activity relating to the company’s bonus policy—Tailor Made Incentives (TMIs). She also noticed that the colleague was not following Ofcom’s guidance.

From her understanding, the colleague was breaching the TMIs policy to fraudulently earn bonuses for herself. In November 2013, she reported this to Mr Widmer which was then forwarded to his boss. Shortly after, Mr Widmer spoke to Ms Jhuti and reminded her that such allegations could “impact her job”. This led to Ms Jhuti taking her statement back and admitting that she was mistaken in her judgement.

Despite retracting her statement, Mr Widmer continued to harass and bully her by stating she was unfit for her job and insisted on weekly meetings. These meetings were intensive, were solely targeted at her and she was made to feel inadequate at her job. By December, he even emailed HR repeatedly telling them she was not good enough who then asked for examples to prove his claims.

However, when Mr Widmer was replaced during his sick leave, the new manager was very happy with her work. This period of calm was short-lived for Ms Jhuti as Mr Widmer returned to work in January of the new year and continued his bullying and harassment. Mr Widmer also asked Ms Jhuti to complete a “Performance Plan Objective” as well as provide him with all her past professional contacts.

Ms Jhuti reached out to HR, at the beginning of February 2014, stating she was disturbed by her boss’s conduct. She also stressed that she could not give up her contacts legally, which is something Mr Widmer may have already known. She was convinced this was just another step in his “agenda” to fire her. However, HR told her that since Mr Widmer was a respected employee, no one would believe her.

Ms Jhuti, by this point, was aware that she would be fired because of a grudge Mr Widmer held. Her request for a new manager was granted towards the end of February 2014, and she also said Ms Jhuti was not making any progress at work. By March 2014, she was diagnosed with work-related stress, anxiety and depression. In the same month, she was offered money to quit her job voluntarily, and the offer money was increased to almost a year’s salary when she went on sick leave.

By July 2014, she was dismissed with three months’ notice. The decision of her termination was appealed in September but even that was denied in August 2015.

The Decision of the Employment Tribunal

To begin with, the Tribunal found the amount of suffering Ms Jhuti had gone through because of the bullying campaign against her is “profound”. Judge Baty even said that while they do not wish to use inappropriate language, they feel Royal Mail “destroyed” Ms Jhuti’s life.

This was mainly because of the stress and anxiety she had to deal with while working there. During the proceedings, Ms Jhuti was visibly distressed when recalling the incidents between her and Mr Widmer and showed signs of PTSD. The bullying and harassment campaign against her also led to panic attacks and a breakdown in her relationship with her daughter.

According to Chris Hadrill, employment law specialist and Partner at Redmans SolicitorsThis claim is a long-running, complicated, and precedent-setting case, which must have been exhausting for Ms Jhuti; she has, however, triumphed in the long run. Claims like this reinforce the fact that organisations must take care to treat employees’ complaints with care, and that they must ensure that complainants are not poorly-treated because they have raised a complaint

The Tribunal ruled that if Royal Mail even had a “shred of decency” in them, then they should compensate Ms Jhuti with nothing less than £100,000 and resolve the matter swiftly. They added that around £12,500 be paid for damages and the pain she has gone through during this trial. They concluded by saying that they were clear this conduct by Royal Mail employees was oppressive and harmful, to say the least.

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