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Payout ends tribunal in sacked-for-smoking row

Payout ends tribunal in sacked-for-smoking row

4:44pm Friday 12th March 2010

    A MOTORCYCLE dealership has given a settlement payout to a former employee who claimed she was unfairly sacked for smoking at work.

    Clothing manager Paulene Hawkings, 54, was dismissed for “gross misconduct” after she was caught by her boss having a cigarette at Dockgate 20 Motorcycles in Millbrook, Southampton.

    but the Harley Davidson dealership brought an employment tribunal to an abrupt halt after a mechanic who witnessed the confrontation testified he had been threatened with the sack if he spoke out.

    The tribunal, which was scheduled to last three days, was settled before more witnesses could testify on Mrs Hawkings’ behalf.

    Mrs Hawkings, pictured, had told how customers and staff had for years used a metal meshframed structure, “open on three sides to the elements”, known as “the cage”, as a smoking area.

    but she found herself in front of a disciplinary hearing last year after new manager Julian Phillips one day ordered her to smoke outside.

    she was then sacked for breaching the company’s smoking policy, which the tribunal heard had been changed eight months previously to ban smoking in “enclosed or substantially enclosed premises”.

    under cross-examination, Mrs Hawkings, who now lives in St Ives, admitted that her job required her to know about health and safety rules but she insisted she had not been given an updated employee handbook.

    she said the policy wasn’t mentioned in staff meetings she had attended and she had been given no warnings.

    Mrs Hawkings, who had worked for Dockgate 20 for eight years, claimed it had been used as an excuse to get rid of her. she said: “If I had been told not to smoke in the cage, I would not have smoked in there.”

    Mechanic Roger Adams later told the tribunal that Mr Phillips knew half a dozen staff were smoking in “the cage”. he said: “It was my impression that Julian was looking to get rid of people to save money and smoking was just an excuse.”

    Mr Adams said he had only received a copy of the latest employee handbook after Mrs Hawkings was sacked.

    and he told the tribunal: “I was threatened with my employment if I attended this meeting.”

    Mrs Hawkings withdrew her claim after accepting a confidential settlement from Dockgate 20.

    Your say YourEcho

    Brite Spark, Stubbington says…
    6:27pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    Smoking in a cage? how on earth is a cage supposed to stop all of the rancid smokers smoke from escaping into non smokers lungs? it hasn’t done her any good by the looks of things, even her hair has gone nicotine colour.

    jono1974, eastleigh says…
    7:56pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    Fair play to her, there is enough persecution of smokers going on as there is, its her choice. Where will this sad little nanny statestop, next will be booze and then what we are eating, what we drive – carbon effciency b****t, hips packs, re-cycling. I remember reading the viz comics and there being bottom inspectors as some of the characters. just you wait.

    S Pance, Morten Harkett says…
    8:45pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    Bright spark: The cage is a metal cage outside the building, much like those used to store gas bottles, bins etc.

    Sadly, what with the recession, lots of company bosses are trying to pull stunts like this and sadly too many workers give in to these bullies.

    Cancelled family holidays, cut backs in break times, removal of benefits, enforced unpaid overtime, lack of company manuals or written contracts…it is all far too common and employees are often threatened if they dare to speak out.

    Bright spark: The cage is a metal cage outside the building, much like those used to store gas bottles, bins etc.Sadly, what with the recession, lots of company bosses are trying to pull stunts like this and sadly too many workers give in to these bullies.Cancelled family holidays, cut backs in break times, removal of benefits, enforced unpaid overtime, lack of company manuals or written contracts…it is all far too common and employees are often threatened if they dare to speak out.

    Condor Man, Southampton says…
    10:00pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    As well as it being illegal surely smoking in an environment full of flammable chemicals is not safe and this lady took too many risks

    v_dubman2005, southampton says…
    10:08pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    [quote][p][bold]Condor Man[/bold] wrote:as well as it being illegal surely smoking in an environment full of flammable chemicals is not safe and this lady took too many risks[/p][/quote]And I hear she even crossed a road on the way to work…..Obviously a born risk taker.

    TEBOURBA, Southampton says…
    11:13pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    I admire mechanic, Roger Adams, supporting his former co-worker against, his employer in Court.These days,particularly when skilled mechanics jobs are difficult to find, it was very brave of him!My advice to Roger would be, from now on, to stop smoking and watch his back!!!!!!!!

    Brite Spark, Stubbington says…
    11:54pm Fri 12 Mar 10

    Was she in ‘Wayne’s World’?

    Stephen McAthey, Southampton says…
    6:18am Sat 13 Mar 10

    Ban all Vehicles that pump out there smoke, and polution, I do not hear you all complainig about that! and ban Volcano’s, Gas central heating. Next to come you wont be allowed to breath out CO2!!Dont blame the Lady, Blame Sir walter Raliegh. Plus the boss should be replaced, sacked, and put on a register of unsuitable managers!!!Well done the mechanic, A HERO…

    ozzieom, Southampton says…
    7:17am Sat 13 Mar 10

    You are all a bunch of muppetts, be constructive with your comments.

    Brite Spark, Stubbington says…
    8:13am Sat 13 Mar 10

    [quote][p][bold]Stephen McAthey[/bold] wrote:Ban all Vehicles that pump out there smoke, and polution, I do not hear you all complainig about that! and ban Volcano’s, Gas central heating. Next to come you wont be allowed to breath out CO2!! Dont blame the Lady, Blame Sir walter Raliegh. Plus the boss should be replaced, sacked, and put on a register of unsuitable managers!!! Well done the mechanic, A HERO…[/p][/quote]What a load of nonsense (apart from the bit about banning volcanos, that’s a good idea, I go along with that).

    Bam Boozler, Southampton says…
    10:32am Sat 13 Mar 10

    The general non smoking regulations were widely publicised so as a manager, she should have been well aware and, if in doubt, it was her responsibility to check. The priviledge of management – a burden of responsibility, which sadly most people try to avoid, but just like the job title as it makes them feel important. That said, I agree that the company has been underhanded in threats to employees. two seperate issues, now it’s resolved and everyone can play nicely!

    southy, redbridge says…
    12:53pm Sat 13 Mar 10

    [quote][p][bold]v_dubman2005[/bold] wrote:[quote][p][bold]Condor Man[/bold] wrote:as well as it being illegal surely smoking in an environment full of flammable chemicals is not safe and this lady took too many risks[/p][/quote]And I hear she even crossed a road on the way to work…..Obviously a born risk taker.[/p][/quote]the cage is out side on the side of the building, you can see the cage from the road, open on 3 sides with the out side wall on one side, so what she done was not illegal, and she was well with in her rights, she went out side to have a smoke.
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    Payout ends tribunal in sacked-for-smoking row