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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

'Whistle-blower' estate agent was unfairly dismissed, rules tribunal

An estate agent at an office of London agency Felicity J Lord, who alleged unethical practices were taking place in the branch, was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.

Abdul Samad, 39, who worked at the agency’s Bow office in the east of the capital, revealed that his firm had allegedly been misrepresenting its market share by listing homes which had in fact been already been sold.

This apparently allowed some members of staff to claim commission or bonuses for those homes, and increased the perceived value of the company.

A report in London’s Metro newspaper claims that Samad initially made the allegations in January 2014 after a dispute with the company over commission.

The company - which vigorously denied all of the claims - is reported by the Metro to have accused Samad of ‘dishonesty, fraud, deliberate falsification of records and breach of company procedure’ in 2014.

However, a panel at the East London Tribunal Hearing Centre has ruled that Samad felt pressured to resign in February 2015 as a result of the way his complaints were handled.

The tribunal said managers had implied that if Samad withdrew the allegations of market manipulation, the dispute against him would be dropped; as it turns out, the dispute was dropped in any case, although Samad contniued with his allegations. 

Samad’s lawyer Jahad Rahman is quoted as saying: “This is a victory for common sense. The tribunal not only found that my client was unfairly dismissed but he was also victimised for whistleblowing at work. It is shocking that the company tried to cover up the market manipulation concerns by asking my client to drop his grievance. This is one of the most disturbing aspects of the case.”

Samad sued Spicerhaart - owner of Felicity J Lord - for £500,000 but a further hearing will make a decision on compensation. 

Other claims by Samad - that he had been the victim of racial and religious discrimination - were rejected by the tribunal.

The full Metro story is here.

This morning Paul Smith, chief executive of Felicity J Lord/Spicerhaart, issued a statement saying: "I have been deeply concerned about the allegations made by Sam Samad and am pleased and reassured that the Employment Tribunal found that, contrary to his assertions, Mr Samad had not been discriminated in any way whatsoever due to his race or religion, had not been victimised and had not had any wages unlawfully deducted or contractual sum withheld from him. 

“The Tribunal also found that Mr Samad had not been dismissed due to any whistle-blowing, a finding which reflects the seriousness with which Spicerhaart considered and investigated the matters raised by Mr Samad.

“It is obviously a concern that the Tribunal determined that Mr Samad had been unfairly dismissed and Spicerhaart will be reviewing its processes and procedures in order to remedy the areas identified by the Tribunal. Spicerhaart is a private, independent company that values ethical behaviour and strives for the highest business standards."

  • Simon Shinerock

    These tribunal claims are getting harder to bring but where they are brought they involve a huge effort by the employer in order to ensure fairness and that all procedures are followed. What often happens is the process descends into the equivalent of a joust with both parties doing their best to win the contest at whatever price. In these circumstances the employee has the advantage of being one person whereas there are often several people involved on the employers side, all of whoom's viewpoints have to be assembled, compared and contrasted in order to come to a decision. This kind of process is challenging and usually the best way forward is to be pragmatic, rise above the backbiting and recriminations, admit where mistakes have been made and try to come to a fair conclusion, easier said than done of course.

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    I agree somewhat Simon.

    But i have worked at corporate (management level - not branch) and i can tell you from first hand experience that members staff are bullied into leaving on a daily basis. Also if a greivence is raised everything possible is done to hide it or fight it.

    The "Company" have no interest to know if it is a legitimate gripe. Especially if the figures are low for the individual and the person they have a grievance about is seen as "A good sort"

    If certain companies actually took their responsibilities as an employer seriously, they looked to create a fair, safe environment (can still be sales focused) they would not have as many complaints and turnover on staff would be lower.

    I know if i wanted to i could get a job with a dozen well known estate / letting agents and i would be able to bring a claim against them for bullying, discrimination within a 12 month period and get a sizable settlement.

    The sad thing is if the recruitment process was better rather than filling a seat ASAP, branches were staffed to a sensible level not skeleton levels, training was consistent and followed up, and their was not just focus on figures all of these cases would disappear.

    Again from experience i do not know if some of these companies are oblivious to the issues they have regarding the quality and moral of their staff or just in denial.

  • Simon Shinerock

    Well Smile, there are two sides to every story and two songs don't make a right. As we have seen from the ambulance chasing whiplash Willies out there, if a loophole exists then it will be exploited. What we want is fairness and balance but too frequently we lurch between over and under protecting workers rights. I therefore come back to my argument for pragmatism

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