Employee who won tribunal case against Spicerhaart now awarded £10,000 costs

A former employee of Spicerhaart has been awarded £10,000 costs after winning her employment tribunal case.

The case, brought by Mrs Anna Catchpole, was heard last July. The tribunal found that she had been constructively and unfairly dismissed, and was critical of the way her grievances had been handled.

At a remedy hearing last October, a settlement was reached between the parties of £28,971.

Spicerhaart has now been ordered to pay £10,000 towards her costs, at a tribunal hearing at Bury St Edmunds.

The latest paperwork in the case, published on Friday, says that Mrs Catchpole had tried to settle matters from the outset without the need for litigation. She had sought some £35,000 in her resignation letter, but had been offered first £2,000 and then £3,500.

In making its award, the tribunal says this is a reserved judgment.

The tribunal says there was not unreasonable behaviour by Spicerhaart, but that it had been “misconceived in its response” to proceedings.

At the original case last July, the tribunal set out an agreed list of issues, including allegations of bullying and harassment of the claimant by her line manager at the Chewton Rose branch in Norwich, and a failure by a divisional partner to take steps to resolve the matter.

The former is named as Annie Ewards and the latter as Richard Olliffe.

There had also been a flawed and drawn-out grievance process which took several months to complete. The claimant had had most of her complaints upheld, but had then been offered “two wholly inadequate resolutions, namely mediation or a move to another branch”.

One complaint, the tribunal heard, was that when Mrs Catchpole’s grandfather died, she had advised she could not go in to work. However, she received a text asking if she could go in to work that afternoon, a request she found insensitive.

When, some months later, Mrs Catchpole had been offered external mediation and “an alternative opportunity in the business”, she declined the offer and resigned.

A few days later she was offered an alternative role in the haart branch in Norwich, but she turned that down and not long after, her resignation was accepted.

The tribunal said that it would not necessarily categorise the issues between the claimant and her line manager as bullying and harassment but did say that the relationship had broken down, making it difficult for the claimant to work with her.

It also said that the divisional manager’s “lack of action” had made the claimant feel she was not being listened to or taken seriously.

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  1. smile please

    Instead of casting stones, Paul Smith should look at his own house.

    Any employee should think long and hard about joining Spicerhaart or one of their associated brands if this is how they treat employees.

  2. Countrybumpkin

    Just out of interest smile please . How would you have dealt with this employee if they declined alternatives and mediation. Feels a little ambulance chaser asking for 35k in a resignation letter?

    employers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    1. smile please

      Nothing to suggest she was ambulance  chasing. 
      It’s an employee that feels like they worked in a toxic environment which led to her leaving and being awarded a settlement.
      I have worked at corporates and sadly there is a pretty wide spread bullying, unfair work practices and only when it’s too late they try and cover their backs.
      I have witnessed in the past amongst other things.
      Members of staff jobs advertised before they are dismissed.
      People moved branches to deliberately unsettle them so they hand in notice.
      Pressure put on people to resign with immediate effect or they will go down discipline route and will have a permanent mark against their reference.
      Staff made to work more hours against their will as branches are understaffed. 
      Staff embarrassed in front of other members of staff for their results.
      Regional managers with cliques which were known to snort coke together and when others voiced concern were outcast.
      Personal relationships that once broke created a raft of issue including the way head office dealt with it.
      Staff made to feel guilty for taking holiday entitlement.
      No company is perfect but let’s look at how the majority of corporate agents work. Figures figures figures. Chances are the branch, regional, area, local m d got their job as their figures were good. They have little training and care to employees. When the Sh1t hits the fan (usually too late( they contact HR and its damage limitation. That’s how the above story reads to me. 

      1. GPL


        I recall “recording” a wonderfully threatening conversation from a Senior Manager many years ago who tried to make my business life very difficult. I’m still laughing now. He thought he held all the cards because of his “position”. Imagine the look on his face when I circulated the transcript of that “one-sided” tirade. Don’t get me wrong, with every fibre of my being I wanted to throw him through the Office Window however one learns that there are much more creative ways to snare a rodent.

        I received a substantial settlement and satisfyingly moved on to new pastures. If you are genuinely being bullied or threatened, think creatively, don’t just sit in fear.

        1. DASH94

          To be honest, that sounds pretty hostile from both directions.

          1. GPL

            That’s what is required when someone tries to abuse their position. I didn’t come up The Clyde on a banana boat.

    2. Lister007

      The company, regardless of what brand is over the door, have no regard for the well being of its staff.
      An immediate family member passed away, compassionate leave was given…however instead of a good will gesture of paying some of this leave they deducted it from my pay as unpaid leave, I got a sympathy card… I’m sure the saying goes, take care of your staff and they will take care of your business.
      The only reason more staff haven’t walked out is because of their bully boy tactics of claw back on commission…No point having an agency if no one wants to work for you!

      1. Breaking Dad

        In my experience, people generally worry about themselves and why wouldn’t they?  Employees stab the businesses they work for in the back all the time, I’ve just become cynical after seeing the cycle repeat itself over and over again, year in year out.  All I can do is do things properly and hold myself to a higher account.  Not all businesses shaft employees, but I can see why it happens.

  3. Hillofwad71

    Looks like Richard Olliffe leaves a trail behind him.Following on from Chewton Rose rolls into Emoov with a blaze in Nov 2017

    “With over a decade of experience in the UK property market, Richard is the ideal person to orchestrate eMoov’s growing army of local property agents leading the home selling revolution across the UK.

    A battle lost for the former miltary officer but  wasted no time in getting himself out of the trenches at Emoov  seamlessly in double quick time finding himself a senior position at Purplebricks

  4. Oliver Wharmby

    Employment practice liability and cyber liability insurance claims are increasingly popular amongst agents, however 9 out of ten claims are not covered as agents don’t buy a policy that covers them!


  5. tigerfish.jump

    This is a depressing case, but one that is all too common in the estate agent industry. The amount of compensation awarded to this victim of bullying is miserable. Bullying and prejudice have NO place whatsoever in any company, yet both are rife across the estate agency sector.

    The problem always emanates from the top of each company and if we are, as a civilized country, going to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour then the punishment must be applied rigorously to the owners and CEOs of each offending company. The penalty for these individuals, who at the moment are quite relaxed and think this immoral behaviour is just part and parcel of operating an estate agency, should be of a sufficient magnitude to make them sit up and take this seriously. Just see how quickly their attitudes towards their employees would change then.

    It’s time for a clean up.


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