Golf club chit chat and generally bad behaviour has frequently resulted in employment tribunal claims. It has often been the case that sometimes well meaning but misguided committee members have caused a great deal of trouble by failing to apply correct employment practices.
Cases include Gorleston Golf Club, Nizels Golf Club and Irvine Ravenspark Golf Club, plus other local cases that we know about but can’t report for confidentiality reasons.
A good example of the level of “misunderstanding” that there can be emerged in the case of Chadwick v Aldeburgh Golf Club. Mrs Chadwick was assistant secretary of the club, located in Suffolk. For those who do not know Aldeburgh it is quintessentially British and renowned for its arts and music festival, founded by Sir Benjamin Britten. She was suspended after mentioning to a lady club captain that members had been gossiping about her and the club secretary, a Mr Bill Beckett. She also said that she had seen the lady captain, 73 year old Juliet Brereton, “trying to squeeze Mr Beckett’s bottom”. It was decided that this behaviour (reporting not bottom squeezing!) was unprofessional and that the remarks were unfounded. As a result Mrs Chadwick was suspended and removed from the club. Two months later she was dismissed for gross misconduct.
She commenced employment tribunal proceedings in which she claimed that she had been bullied by Mr Beckett within weeks of him arriving at the club. She maintained that she had an unblemished employment record for four years prior to his arrival and had received a 10% pay rise in 2011 in recognition of her work. It emerged in evidence that , at his previous club, Mr Beckett was referred to as “Ayatollah” because of his dictatorial manner.
Remarkably, when appealing a written warning Mrs Chadwick was told that she was not a victim of bullying “because there has been no physical violence towards you”. The club captain, Steve Beaumont, noting Mr Beckett’s “deep, loud and somewhat gruff voice” noted that it was “typically South African”. He believed that his voice and attitude “may be forceful but this may be ascribed to his determination to get things done”.
Unsurprisingly Employment Judge Robin Postle observed that the rejection of Mrs Chadwick’s complaint displayed “amazing ignorance, naivety and total misunderstanding of bullying and harassment”.Details