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Constructive Dismissal: Pensioner Brings Claim over Assault

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Pensioner Neville Bould, 68, of Stourport, Worcestershire, has lodged a claim for unfair constructive dismissal, alleging he was physically assaulted on two occasions by employees of a jewellery firm where he worked as a van driver.  He complained about the attacks to police and eventually resigned over his treatment.

"One employee elbowed me, then hit me in the face, took my glasses after they had been knocked off and gave me a V-sign," Mr. Bould told Birmingham Employment Tribunal.

"On another occasion, a different employee struck me on my side as he went past, to such an extent that I felt sick and had to go home and lie down.

"I needed painkillers and went to hospital.  I was left with bruises.  I complained to the management and when I looked in the firm's accident book, the assault was recorded as a collision.

"Apart from physical assaults, I had to put up with verbal abuse, harassment and bullying.  The final straw came when I had to take gold and silver in the works van to assay offices in Birmingham.

"I found myself surrounded by four thugs.  I locked myself in the van as they tried to get in.  Eventually, I drove off, unhurt.

"I complained to the firm about a lack of security.  More should have been done to protect me, such as having bars on the vehicle, but no-one seemed bothered."

The reports Mr. Bould's former employer, Acme Jewellery, of Belbroughton, Worcestershire, denies all allegations.  The hearing continues.

How to prove constructive dismissal

To prove , you must show that your employer committed a serious breach of contract, you did not accept the breach, and you resigned because of the breach.  Examples of serious breaches of contract in this context include the following:

  • Unilaterally cutting your pay;
  • Arbitrarily demoting you to a lesser role;
  • Changing your job duties, working hours or place of work without your agreement;
  • Failing to give you reasonable support to carry out your job without disruption, harassment or bullying from co-workers; &
  • Forcing you to work in conditions where health and safety regulations are not observed.

cases are hard to win, however, so you should always seek advice before quitting your job.  Factors such as your employment status, the terms of your employment contract, length of service, and reasons for leaving all require consideration.

You can obtain further information about  and guidance on what your options are for dealing with the situation from , (CAB) and .  Both CAB and ACAS provide free and impartial advice. 

Other sources of free information include and .  Depending on your circumstances, however, it may be better to .

You can be in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.

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