No one can be expected to put up with unprovoked aggression or violence in their workplace. An Employment Tribunal (ET) made that point in awarding substantial compensation to a vehicle technician who felt that he had no option but to resign after being subjected to a vicious assault by a colleague.
The perpetrator of the attack subsequently pleaded guilty to assault. His victim sent a resignation letter the day after the incident, stating his belief that the employment relationship had irrevocably broken down. He contended that his employer’s failure to provide a safe working environment was a fundamental breach of contract. After he launched proceedings, the employer did not contest his claim that he had been constructively unfairly dismissed. It did, however, dispute the value of his claim.
Ruling on the matter, the ET noted that there is no reason whatsoever why anyone should have to suffer such ill treatment in a modern workplace. It accepted that the assault had caused the man some mental health difficulties, including emotional trauma, panic attacks and depression. The entirely unprovoked and degrading incident had taken place in full view of his colleagues.
Given the shocking nature of the attack, the ET accepted that, for 24 weeks following the incident, he was unable to contemplate looking for alternative work. By failing to embark on a job hunt thereafter, however, he had failed reasonably to mitigate his loss. He was awarded a total of £16,963 in compensation, that sum including a 25 per cent uplift to reflect the employer’s unreasonable failure to comply with the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.