Estate agent wins £30,000 payout after bosses make ‘life difficult’ for him

Stow Bros was named the UK’s Best Small Sales Agency

An estate agent has been awarded more than £30,000 in compensation after a court upheld his claim of unfair dismissal.

Chris Williams, described as a ‘conscientious and diligent employee’, headed up Stow Brothers’ property management department.

The court heard that he spent four ‘relatively happy years’ at the east London estate agency, before the working relationship between Williams and his employers deteriorated.

In May 2019, a tenant was permitted to move into a property without the necessary paperwork and did not pay rent, forcing the agency to compensate the landlord.

Company director Andrew Goad instructed Williams to ‘create’ the missing paperwork required to make an insurance claim covering the cost of this compensation but he refused, the tribunal heard.

Over the next 12 months, Goad sought to ‘make life difficult for Mr Williams, criticising him in front of others and portraying him as incompetent.’

During this period, Williams claims that he was the only employee not given a pay rise and he claimed his bosses deliberately did not invite him to an awards ceremony.

When Williams signed off sick from work with stress in February 2020, his departure was nothing ‘other than welcome’ to his boss, the tribunal found.

He was then placed on furlough, during the first lockdown, and was the only employee who remained under the scheme by the end of the year.

In an email sent during this period, Goad wrote ‘this employee’s time is up’ and that he was looking to ‘move forward’ without him.

He also wrote: ‘We always knew it would be tricky to pin him (Williams) down on something.

‘Let’s hope the fear that he might have to return to the office and face up to his colleagues is enough for him to buckle.’

At the end of 2020, Williams was subjected to disciplinary hearings, after being accused of deleting emails from his computer.

The panel found this was a ‘false trail’ designed to create a pretence for dismissal and described a disciplinary hearing as an ‘ambush’.

Williams also accused his bosses of being homophobic when they made comments about whether a colleague was safe sharing a room with him on a staff Christmas trip to Paris in 2019.

Similar jibes led to Williams pulling out of a trip to Barcelona in 2017, the tribunal was told.

In January 2020, Goad responded to a meeting request with ‘I’m free’, in reference to the theatrically camp character Mr Humphries in the classic 70s sitcom Are You Being Served?.

While the panel found that all these comments were ‘naturally offensive’, they determined Williams was discriminated against for his refusal to do as Goad had asked in 2019 and not because of his sexuality.

Williams sued his employers for unfair dismissal after he was sacked in February 2021, workplace harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The tribunal dismissed the discrimination claims but upheld his claim of unfair dismissal and awarded him a total of £30,891 in compensation.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Hotwells84

    Why is the headline of this article about the persons sexuality? It has no purpose other than being click bait. The award was made for other reasons. If we talk about equality headlines phrased this way just set things back. Come on Eye !!

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    1. A W

      Pretty much spot on. I expect better than this from PIE, his sexuality had absolutely no relevance to the matter.

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      1. jan-byers

        I have no doubt the neg wanted everyone to know he is gay – he thinks people should be interested in his sexuality

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      2. EGIL

        But it did indeed have relevance  as he claimed discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation also. It should not matter at all but the person raised the issue and I am sure it had a bearing on the compensation.

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        1. A W

          Hence, there is no requirement for further explanation from the respondent and the complaints of harassment and discrimination must be dismissed.
           
          Here is the full judgement if you’re interested (page 19): assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/63d3c638d3bf7f25251182b6/Mr_C_Williams_-v-_Stow_Residential_Ltd_ta_Stow_Brothers_-_3203211_2021_-_Reasons.pdf    

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  2. aSalesAgent

    Let me get this straight. Stow Brothers has been found by the Court to: falsify documents to claim on insurance, or made attempts to; humiliates, excludes and bullies staff who do not comply with their shady and potentially illegal instructions; creates false evidence to unfairly sack staff; doesn’t have sufficient measure in place to protect landlords, or circumvents them when they want to? And this is meant to be the “UK’s Best Small Sales Agency” according to the Best Estate Agent Guide?! What’s Peter Knight got to say about it?

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    1. AgentBen

      It seems unbelievable to me that the punishment is only a little over £30,000.

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      1. EGIL

        Only they know the whole truth.

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      2. aSalesAgent

        Ditto. And why didn’t they settle out of court and save themselves all the bad press? Idiots.

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        1. aSalesAgent

          Is Andrew Goad still there? Oh wait, it looks like he’s one of the ‘Stow’ brothers who own it.

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          1. EGIL

            It’s interesting the the discrimination was not upheld and the award was for unfair dismissal.

             

            There is more to this which is probably why it went to court and not settled beforehand. Not sticking up for Stow Brothers btw!

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