A former HS2 compliance manager who was unfairly dismissed by the company will be paid a total of £7,647.92.
Earlier this year an employment tribunal ruled that HS2 unfairly dismissed Sharon Goodison after taking more than a year to respond to her grievance.
An employment tribunal tasked with determining the appropriate level of compensation has now decided that it was 75 per cent likely that Goodison “would have resigned in any event” and therefore “the compensatory award for unfair dismissal should be reduced by 75 per cent”.
As such, the tribunal ruled that HS2 should pay Goodison a total award of £7,647.92 for unfair dismissal. This is made up of a basic award of £3,264, a compensatory award of £3,109.27 and an uplift of 20 per cent on both.
The case centred on a complaint made by Goodison in August 2020. She told HS2 that she had been bullied by her line manager – but only received a response in August 2021, despite the state-owned rail company’s own grievance policy pledging to “make every effort to deal with grievances as quickly as possible”.
Employment judge Jill Brown said the delay was “all the more serious” as HS2 had received an occupational health report four months into its investigation that showed that Goodison’s health was deteriorating during the grievance process.
Goodison also claimed that she faced racial discrimination, racial harassment and victimisation when working at HS2. However, the employment tribunal said there was no proof that she had, adding that Goodison had at times been “hostile” towards her manager.
In determining the level of compensation, the tribunal found that there was evidence that Goodison was “already alienated” from her manager and her work environment in January 2021.
The ruling continued: “It was highly likely that she would have resigned then, in any event, had she received the same grievance outcome, before any unreasonable delay had occurred.
“On all the facts, including the claimant’s alienation from her manager at an early stage, but taking into account the damage that an unresolved grievance would also have caused to work relationships, the tribunal considered that it was much more likely than not that the claimant would have resigned, in any event, had there been no delay in the grievance outcome.
“Nevertheless, in the tribunal’s assessment, the delay was still a factor which affected the claimant’s decision.”
The tribunal did find that the “very lengthy delay” in providing Goodison with a grievance outcome would almost inevitably have resulted in her “becoming more disaffected and entrenched in her hostility to her manager and the company”.
The tribunal also ruled that Goodison had “mitigated her loss” by accepting a fixed-term contract with the Cabinet Office in November 2021.
The ruling stated: “That role almost completely extinguished her losses, save that there was an ongoing pension loss. The tribunal considered that the pension loss was caused by her unfair dismissal and that it was just and equitable for the claimant to recover compensation for that ongoing loss.”
An HS2 spokesperson said: “We work hard to embed equality and diversity into everything we do at HS2, and we are proud of the inclusive workplace culture we are creating.
“The tribunal did highlight some issues with the application of our HR processes, which we will learn from, but importantly, claims of racism, discrimination, victimisation and harassment were all unfounded. The safety and wellbeing of all HS2 employees is at the core of our company values.”