A former security guard at HM Treasury has won his claim for unfair dismissal against his former employer after it was found that he had been made a “scapegoat” for the failings of the firm.
Mr Wilfred Onyia brought legal claims against security firm G4S after he claimed he was forced to resign last year after an impromptu protest left Treasury officials embarrassed and complaints were submitted to the firm.
Mr Onyia’s claim for unfair dismissal, race discrimination, disability discrimination, disability-related harassment and victimisation were heard at the Central London Employment Tribunal earlier this year after he submitted his legal claims last year. Mr Oniya, giving evidence at the Employment Tribunal, stated that he had been forced to resign from his employment in August 2013 after an impromptu protest in the reception area of HM Treasury in London’s Parliament Square on 16 April 2013 left Treasury officials angry and threatening to terminate their contract for security services with G4S.
The Employment Tribunal heard that Mr Oniya was one of several G4S security guards working in reception at the time of the incident on 16 April 2013. The Tribunal also heard that Mr Oniya’s manager at G4s decided that he wanted “heads to roll” and forced Mr Oniya into resigning as a “scapegoat”, despite no other punishments being handed to the other security guards present on the date of the incident.
The Employment Tribunal found that Mr Oniya’s resignation had in fact been “engineered” by G4S and that his manager, Mr Shepherd, had “knowingly induced” Mr Gough to “coerce” Mr Oniya into resigning. The Tribunal found in Mr Oniya’s favour in his claims for unfair dismissal and victimisation and awarded him £34,042, although the Tribunal rejected his claims for race discrimination, disability discrimination and disability-related harassment. However, the Tribunal also reduced Mr Oniya’s compensation to account for the fact that Mr Oniya had been “obstructive and causing trouble with a variety of manager”.
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Employers should handled disciplinary procedures in a fair and prompt fashion and should ensure that any investigation and disciplinary procedure is fairly dealt with, in particular ensuring that any decision to dismiss is reasonable. A failure to do so may result in a lengthy and potentially expensive Employment Tribunal claim.”
Redmans Solicitors are a firm of solicitors in Richmond, London