Barry Williams was awarded a total of £ 26,180 for unfair dismissal after a court hearing was told he remained ‘well regarded’ by his bosses only until his stores’ performance declined.
Image: Mark Waugh Manchester Press Photo)
An Aldi branch manager who claimed he was forced to quit his job after his stores started to underperform has been awarded £ 26,000 following a court hearing.
Barry Williams had worked for the Economy Supermarket for 10 years and had previously been recruited to help turn around stores that were not doing well.
He also had an “excellent employment record” until the events that saw him be the subject of a disciplinary investigation.
The court heard that Mr. Williams did not remain “well regarded” by his bosses until around 2018, when the performance of his stores fell.
Mr Williams – who has said he “enjoys his job” – finally quit without notice in February 2019, after a decade of working for Aldi.
Mark Waugh Manchester press photo)
The court heard that Mr Williams had been charged with misconduct – but it was argued that the allegations involved a practice that was “largely ignored” by Aldi bosses if a store was functioning well.
Mr Williams had been accused of hiding price cards above shelves where product lines ran out, to hide the fact that he had not ordered enough stock.
But the audience was told it was the kind of practice Aldi “turned a blind eye” to if the performance was good.
He was also accused of modifying staff clocking times to avoid violating working time regulations.
The court heard that Aldi had not conducted an objective investigation into the matter.
Mr Williams claimed that Aldi used the incidents as an excuse to force him to leave and said he was under tremendous pressure in his job.
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In a written judgment, labor judge Dawn Shotter said: “It was [Aldi’s] culture to put a lot of pressure on managers.
“There was sometimes unbearable pressure exerted by the store area manager, who was also under similar pressure, on the store managers.
“All were under massive pressure to perform well on key performance indicators, especially productivity, inventory and store availability, which turned into sales. “
Mr Williams was confronted by his area manager, Peter Seddon, in October 2018, and admitted he deliberately hid price cards to improve the performance of his store.
He initially denied the accusation but finally admitted that he “did not feel safe in his job”.
The court heard that Mr Williams had promised Mr Seddon that he would not do it again and they agreed that “that was the end of the matter”.
However, Mr. Seddon included the price cards incident in an allegation of misconduct, as well as the charges of changing clocking times.
The court concluded that Mr Seddon, concluding with fellow principal manager Mathew Lipscombe, “sought to remove the plaintiff from the business” because Mr Lipscombe felt he was “one of the worst performers”.
It was decided that the price card claim was lumped together with the hours of work claim, as neither of these alone could have justified the dismissal.
Judge Shotter wrote: “Somehow, whether through performance management or misconduct, the plaintiff’s exit from the company was inevitable. “
He continued: “The Tribunal found, on a balance of probabilities, that if a store manager was functioning well, the removal of the price cards was ignored, but if there were performance issues and the store was in operation. difficulty, the removal of store cards would be used along with other claims. underperformance / fault in firing a store manager or the mechanism by which a confidential compromise agreement would be reached.
“Store managers are well paid for the pressure they are under, ‘Aldi is not for everyone being such a demanding job’ and if the store manager had any difficulties, managers employed by the first responder would raise issues ranging from non-historical performance, absence and sickness levels, stock availability and staff complaints as it had done in the Applicant’s case.
“If a store manager and the store were good, managers would turn a deaf ear if the store played for them. “
Judge Shotter found that Mr. Williams’ conduct and underperformance contributed to his exit from the company, but ruled that his conduct only warrants a 20% reduction in compensation awarded.
Mr Williams was awarded a total of £ 26,180 for wrongful dismissal.
She wrote: “The Plaintiff had been employed for 10 years with an excellent employment record until the events leading up to his resignation, and he knew that even if his actions were against the rules, the Respondent would choose to do so. not knowing if it suited him, that is, if the requester and the store he managed were good performers.
“The Tribunal discussed granting a higher percentage reduction, which it would have done without the particular circumstances of this case, including the pressure on the claimant.
“The Respondent fundamentally violated his implied confidence clause and a 100% reduction requested by the Respondent is inappropriate and was not fair and equitable in all the circumstances. “
A spokesperson for Aldi told Liverpool Echo: “Aldi is an inclusive employer and will not tolerate discrimination in any form.
“We are therefore very disappointed with the court’s decision and will now take the time to carefully review the decision before deciding whether further action is necessary.”