Financial adviser unfairly dismissed after ‘spurious allegations’

A financial adviser was unfairly dismissed after his employer put unreasonable pressure on him to extend a restrictive covenant.

That was the decision of the Employment Tribunal in a case involving Peter Ward, who worked as a financial planning provider for Fiducia Comprehensive Financial Planning from 2009-2018.

In May 2018, Ward resigned from the company and gave his three months’ notice, stating that he intended to spend more time with his family.

He met with Marcus Grimshaw, who was a director of Fiducia. Grimshaw wanted to know where Ward was planning to work after he left.

Ward said he intended to work with Ms Catlin, who was a former colleague at Fiducia. Grimshaw became increasingly hostile.

He threatened to treat Ward as he had treated Catlin when she left if he joined a competitor.

Rumours in the office suggested he had arranged for a strongly worded letter threatening legal action to be sent to her home on the day of her wedding.

Ward wanted to end the meeting but Grimshaw continued forcefully expressing his views in an aggressive manner. Ward phoned another director, Anthony Scott who told him not to deal with Grimshaw in the future.

A company called Openwork, which provided services for Fiducia, later contacted Ward about a possible regulatory breach.

Scott became aggressive towards Ward, accusing him of serious misconduct including sending company documents to his private mail address and failing to disclose a large sum of money he had inherited from a client.

The following week. Fiducia sent a document to Ward that would increase his restrictive covenant from 12 months to 24 months following the end of his employment.

He was threatened that he would not receive commission he had already earned if he didn’t sign the document.

Ward refused to sign and submitted his second resignation. He left immediately and took legal action against Fiducia.

The Employment Tribunal ruled that Ward had been intimidated and bullied in the meeting with Grimshaw and subjected to false and spurious allegations intended to pressure him into signing the document.

Ward was awarded £17,199.12 compensation for unfair dismissal.

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law please contact Joanne on 01228 516666.

By Joanne Stronach Head of Employment & HR

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Throughout my claim, I felt completely confident that you had my best interests at heart. The advice you gave us throughout was clear and not misleading, and again I felt the advice given was best for me, not best for you or your firm.

Client 28th May 2015