A former estate agency boss has lost his attempt to claim constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.
Nick Elgey, who resigned last year from his job at Cumberland Estate Agents in Carlisle, claimed he had had no choice but to leave. He had allegedly compared the parent company, Cumberland Building Society, to North Korea’s dictatorship.
He said that two senior colleagues had treated him aggressively.
However, tribunal judge Jessica Hill threw out Elgey’s claim for constructive dismissal, and said that both general manager Nyree Legge and Cumberland’s deputy chief executive Peter Temple had acted reasonably.
She said most of the incidents that Elgey complained of had simply been issues relating to the normal day-to-day management of the business.
She accepted that Elgey had been distressed that his bosses had decided to review his management performance. He had not agreed with their criticisms, but this did not mean he had been effectively, and unfairly, dismissed.
Mrs Hill said: “Miss Legge and Mr Temple both gave clear and cogent evidence that whilst he was excellent in some parts of his role they had concerns over his lack of strategic thinking and drive.”
She said both managers tried to give him support in terms of line management and resources.
Elgey’s perceptions of how he was treated were completely at odds with the evidence. Mrs Hill went on to say that two aspects had caused her great concern.
The first was that Elgey had included in his written statements potentially damaging evidence against Temple, despite knowing that an investigation had found him not guilty of any wrongdoing.
“Secondly,” said Mrs Hill, “the motivation for [Mr Elgey] bringing these proceedings was to damage the reputation of Mr Temple and to bring down Mr Parr [the Cumberland's chief executive]. The tribunal views this conduct as a deliberate attempt to mislead it and provide evidence that he knew was untruthful.”
During the hearing, Legge described how she had tried during a meeting to tell Elgey that she was unhappy with his delivery of a business update to senior colleagues but he became aggressive and slammed the door as he left.
Another colleague who saw Mr Elgey at that meeting through a window was concerned enough to make a note of his behaviour, though Elgey consistently denied behaving aggressively.
The tribunal also heard that Elgey, while on sick leave, did unpaid “therapeutic” work with a property developer, Citadel Estates, for whom he went on to work as commercial director.
The Cumberland’s barrister Amy Smith said this had put him in clear breach of his employment contract and created a conflict of interest. Elgey rejected her suggestion that he could not accept criticism at work.
In August last year, Legge had a chance meeting with Elgey in Carlisle. By that time he was working for Citadel.
Describing that encounter, she said: “He said that things have worked out for him but that wasn’t the point. [He] said he can go into work without shaving; he can listen to the radio while he’s working; and he doesn’t have to go to meetings.”
He had, she said, added that he did not care about winning the tribunal but wanted to bring down the people who he felt had treated him badly. It was during that encounter that Elgey allegedly made his comment about the North Korean dictatorship.