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NHS worker fired after row with colleague over someone using his cup wins unfair dismissal case

by Ozva Admin

An NHS hospital worker has won a wrongful termination case after he was sacked from his job following a fight over a cup.

Steve Mullen was upset when someone used his mug after finding liquid in the glass that spilled on himself.

An employment court heard that Mr. Mullen confronted his co-workers to ask who was responsible for leaving the liquid in the cup.

He was accused of threatening a member of his team, Paul Hutchinson, during the exchange.

Mullen said he had done nothing wrong but was sacked by the NHS for serious misconduct, despite working for nearly 20 years in the service.

However, an employment court awarded the 43-year-old more than £2,000 after ruling that the NHS investigation into his behavior was flawed.

The hearing, which took place in Glasgow, heard that Mr Mullen started working for the city’s Royal Infirmary in 2002 as a technician.

In 2018 he was appointed supervisor in the Endoscopy Decontamination Unit, earning £26,000 a year.

At the hearing it was learned that on March 11, 2021, Mr. Hutchison, who worked for him as a technician, had filed a complaint following the incident.

In short, he stated that [Mr Mullen]who was his supervisor, was agitated because someone used a cup that belonged to him,” the court heard.

“Trying to calm him down, [Mr Mullen] he had repeatedly insulted him and made apparent threats to him later.”

When asked about the incident, Mr Mullen said he had acted in this way because he was “angry and disappointed” to discover that someone had used his cup and had liquid left in it, which had spilled on him when he picked up . up

Mullen allegedly asked everyone in his locker room if they had used the cup, to which no one admitted responsibility.

Moments later, Mr. Hutchison allegedly approached Mr. Mullen in the apartment’s laundry area and told him the mug was not his.

A disciplinary hearing at the hospital accused Mullen of verbally reprimanding his colleague.

Hospital bosses told him: “Mr Hutchison had stated that you had tried to goad him into a physical fight and threatened to act at a later date by claiming that you knew where you parked your car and would pull him out.

“Mr. Hutchison said you were yelling at him and cursing at him and told him to fuck off. Mr. Hutchison believed he was goading him into a fight and then threatened him that he knew where he parked his car and would pull him out.

“Mr Hutchison believed this to be a genuine threat and that he feared for his safety.”

Mullen said that he and Hutchison were friends and that he was willing to apologize to him.

However, he denied threatening him and suggested that he had been provoked because his colleague was not wearing the correct PPE at the time.

In October 2021, he was fired after being found guilty of serious misconduct.

Mr. Mullen appealed against the decision, but his appeal was rejected. As a result, he took the Board of Health to court alleging wrongful dismissal.

His case was upheld as the court ruled that the disciplinary process had taken too long, had not been impartial and had been potentially influenced by previous incidents.

Employment judge Rosie Sorrell said: “I have carefully evaluated all the evidence in the round. In doing so, I found that there were procedural flaws in the process that led to [Mr Mullen’s] dismissal.

“Therefore, I have concluded that these procedural deficiencies had such an impact that they made the entire process unfair and that [Glasgow Health Board] did not act reasonably in firing [him].”

Mr Mullen initially received compensation of £8,956.26.

Later, however, the judge ruled that it should be reduced by 75 per cent to £2,312.50.

He explained his reasoning for the decision citing the “serious nature” of the claims and the “adverse impact of that behavior on Mr. Hutchison’s mental health and well-being.”

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