A Dundee man sacked by tyre company Michelin while off sick with stress following a triple tragedy has won nearly £30,000 after a tribunal.
Stan Reid was signed off sick from his job as a production worker at Dundee’s Michelin tyre factory in February last year amid the hunt for his best friend’s 18-year-old son Ralph Smith, who had fallen from cliffs near Arbroath.
A vigil at the teenager’s family home in Whitfield saw two of his friends, Julie McCash and David Sorrie, brutally stabbed and killed by Robert Stratton, with Ralph’s body then tragically found washed ashore one month later.
To make matters worse for Mr Reid, his bosses at Michelin then sacked him for gross misconduct after learning through Facebook that he had attended a gin festival in Glasgow in a bid to get away from it all.
Describing Mr Reid’s treatment as “egregiously unfair”, Judge Peter Wallington QC has now awarded him £29,485.45 following an employment tribunal last month lasting three days.
In what is considered to be a particularly rare move, QC Wallington is also considering fining the company £5,000 for their treatment of Mr Reid.
Mr Reid said he was delighted with the decision and said the way he was treated made him “really angry”.
“I was essentially bullied out of my job instead of being given the help I needed.
“They never took into account the murders or that I was still looking for wee Ralphie.
“They had tunnel vision and had already decided why I was in Glasgow.
“They made me feel worse rather than look after me.
“They claimed they look after their workers but quite clearly they don’t and the judge has agreed.”
Muir Myles Laverty’s (MML) Ryan Russell, who represented Mr Reid, said “justice had been done”.
He said: “The tribunal has heavily criticised Michelin for the atrocious way they treated Mr Reid in the worst moment of his life.
“From the moment I read the papers in this case it shocked me how callous Michelin were.
“The is a victory for Mr Reid, his family, those connected to the tragic events and anyone who has been judged whilst from suffering mental health problems.
“Never judge a book by the cover. We will all need a helping hand from our employer in our moment of need.
“No one wants to be kicked when they are down. Lessons must be learned. The fact that the Judge is considering fining Michelin means there is still more to come.”
The judge’s decision report states: “None of those involved in the respondent’s decision taking process appears to have engaged seriously with the circumstances leading to the claimant’s absence from work or his explanation for going to a gin festival, or for the Facebook postings.
“Indeed, his attempts to explain appear to have been used against him, unjustifiably, as reasons for finding that he lacked insight into the seriousness of his conduct and showed no remorse.”
The report adds that Mr Reid was subjected to “hostile questioning” from the start and labelled the actions of bosses as “remarkably insensitive” and a “flagrant disregard” for fairness.
Written submissions will now be accepted from Michelin and MML on whether to impose a £5,000 fine.
John Reid, factory manager at Michelin in Dundee, said bosses will conduct a review after the finding.
He said: “Providing a supportive working environment is an absolute priority for Michelin, so we are obviously extremely disappointed and concerned that the tribunal found that not to be the case in this instance.
“We take the judge’s findings very seriously, of course, and we will use them as the basis of a review of what happened in this particular case. We will also use them to inform a much wider examination of the relevant procedures we currently have in place.”