We acted for one medium sized client who had 2 long standing members of staff, both in positions of seniority. One was an HR Manager who had access to confidential board information who was suspected of passing such information on to the other employee. The other employee had previously raised allegations of sex discrimination, age discrimination and disability discrimination and there was a concern that if that individual was found to have been actively involved that they may allege that any subsequent disciplinary action was as a result of having raised such concerns with a risk of them claiming discrimination or victimisation.
The business had also failed to win some contracts that it had expected to win. There was concern that this was due to the confidential information being leaked to a competitor. It had also lost some existing contracts and there was concern that this too was due to the leak of information. They didn’t know which of the two were responsible for leaking the information externally.
The Managing Director normally relied on the HR Manager to conduct investigations and assist in disciplinary meetings. He couldn’t do so in this case given that they were the subject of the investigation. It was also necessary to conduct the investigation covertly as they did not want the employees tipped off about what was happening.
The business was also in a regulated industry and was required to have a Compliance Officer in place. The HR Manager was also the Compliance Officer and any removal from the business meant that they needed to have alternative arrangements in place to be able to continue to trade.
At Lupton Fawcett we have the ability to provide HR support to assist with internal investigations, grievance and disciplinary matters. Our HR team supported the MD through the investigation process. The HR team worked with our employment team and the company to obtain the evidence required, resulting in the HR Manager being questioned over her involvement and her resigning with immediate effect at no cost to the business. It also gave the MD time to put interim arrangements in place to ensure they could continue to meet their compliance requirements.
There was no direct evidence that the other employee had requested the confidential information be provided to them or whether they had been involved in the leaking of the information externally. However, given the loss of contracts and reduction in work there was a redundancy situation. Our HR team, alongside our employment team guided the MD through the redundancy consultation procedure with the employee concerned. They also assisted in the drafting of a settlement agreement when the employee approached them about having a protected conversation. The result was that the business secured the removal of the employees from the business, received no claims from either employee and was able to continue to trade and develop their business with no further concern that confidential information was being leaked from the business.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.