A mortgage adviser who was sacked for “always moaning” has won more than £20,000 in compensation.
The employment tribunal in Cambridge ruled that Helen McMahon had been unfairly dismissed for complaining about working more than 48 hours per week and saying she was “stressed”.
McMahon had worked at Heron Financial for two years from June 2017 as a mortgage protection adviser specialising in new builds. She could work 12-hour days meeting clients as they visited new homes, often without a lunch break.
Her managers claimed she was dismissed due to poor performance, despite the fact she had been awarded a bottle of champagne some months before and had recorded almost double the number of lending applications of one of her colleagues.
There was no opt-out of the maximum 48-hour working week permitted by the Working Time Regulations in her contract, which only stated she should work a minimum of 40 hours a week with a “day off to be agreed in lieu”.
In May 2019, she emailed her managers about commission payments she should have received but had not been included in her latest payslips. She then took two weeks off due to illness, after which she called a meeting with her manager Robin Thomas.
McMahon raised her long working hours and the fact her salary and commission had not been what she expected, nor had she received sick pay. She argued that it was her statutory right not to work more than 48 hours a week, and asked the company to make changes to ease the stress she was feeling as a result.
Two days later, company founder Warren Harrocks told her she was being dismissed without any explanation.
Text exchanges between Thomas and his colleagues seen by the tribunal mentioned that McMahon was “always moaning”. Harrocks told the tribunal that he was unaware that she had raised issues about her hours and pay.
In her judgment, Employment Judge Sarah King said: “Mr Harrocks’ own evidence was that [McMahon] was very money driven and unhappy about her pay. This combined with Mr Thomas’ comments gives the impression [McMahon] was seen as someone who complained a lot.
“[Heron Financial] is not going to admit it dismissed her for inadmissible reasons but… in the absence of any other credible reason… her dismissal was because she was ‘moaning’… I am satisfied [Mrs McMahon] was dismissed for the assertion of a statutory right. That dismissal was unfair as no process was followed and there was no fair reason to dismiss.”
McMahon was awarded £19,552 for unfair dismissal, and £2,736 for unlawful deduction from wages. She was also awarded £587 for unpaid commission and sick pay, and £252 for wrongful dismissal.