An employee at a Lloyd’s of London underwriter who suffered “significant incidents of bullying” and was “berated” by his manager in the middle of an open plan office has won an employment tribunal lawsuit.
Liam Vaughan sued Talbot Underwriting Services for constructive unfair dismissal claiming that he had resigned after being bullied and subjected to “coldness” from senior managers. Talbot now faces paying him thousands of pounds in compensation.
The move comes as Lloyd’s, which is a market where insurance policies are bought and sold, pushes to improve the culture at underwriting and broking firms that operate there.
A survey last year exposed big problems: 40 per cent of respondents said that they were under excessive pressure to perform, while 23 per cent said that work had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. More than a fifth of respondents said they had seen people in their organisation turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour.
Lloyd’s has launched a number of initiatives to try to address these problems.
In his tribunal case, Mr Vaughan, an accounts assistant, alleged that in February 2019 he was asked to go to a table in the middle of an open plan floor.
There he was “berated” by his then line manager — identified in the ruling only as B — in an “extremely shocking and belittling” manner for his work on financial statements, according to a judgment from the Central London Employment Tribunal.
Following this incident he was signed off work for weeks with anxiety, poor sleep and tension and lodged a grievance with Talbot.
The company upheld his complaint and concluded he had been spoken to in a bullying manner. It issued his manager a final written warning, according to the ruling.
Talbot and its parent company, AIG, declined to comment. Mr Vaughan also declined to comment.
In April 2019, Mr Vaughan returned to work and was given a new line manager but claimed that Nigel Wachman, then chief finance officer of Talbot, and Sean Callaghan, the deputy finance director, “ignored him when beforehand they would have acknowledged him”, the ruling said.
Concerns were raised about Mr Vaughan’s performance in August 2019 but he offered to resign rather than go through a formal capability process. He eventually resigned in November 2019.
Judge Mark Emery in his ruling found that “no steps were taken” by Talbot to check on Mr Vaughan’s wellbeing “after what had been significant incidents of bullying towards him”.
The judge added: “I concluded that in these circumstances — the claimant being bullied, his clear expression on his return that he could not deal with a formal process and he would rather resign than go through this — was conduct . . . likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence [that exists between employer and employee].”
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