THE woman accusing one of the region’s biggest employers of unfair dismissal would have been sacked regardless of whether or not disciplinary procedures were followed correctly, a tribunal was told.

EE representatives admitted there had been flaws in the disciplinary procedure when they dismissed operations manager Fay Hand in January, but maintained the company was right to sack her.

Ms Hand, who worked for the company for 17 years and had an unblemished record, was dismissed for allegedly not doing enough to tackle bullying and harassment among staff.

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She lost her job at the company's Darlington call centre after failing to follow up an incident of bullying during which a worker had his car keys and a computer game stolen.

Weeks later, the same worker attacked a colleague, later claiming he had been provoked by bullying.

The tribunal at Teesside Magistrates Court heard Ms Hand had not witnessed the original incident but was told about it by a team leader, who she instructed to deal with the situation.

Bosses said her failure to double-check the matter had been resolved amounted to gross misconduct and she was dismissed following a disciplinary procedure EE’s representative described as 'not of Rolls Royce standards'.

The court heard that the company had failed to keep proper records, had not made matters clear to the claimant, had not separated disciplinary and investigatory matters and failed to give her adequate opportunity to explain why she had not followed the incident up.

John Mitton, representing Ms Hand, said: “She delegated to an experienced team leader who later told her that the matter had been resolved.

“We believe her punishment disproportionate – for somebody with her service and exemplary record it should have been a final warning at worst.”

Damian Robson, for EE, said the issues highlighted had no bearing on the decision made.

He said: “As a senior manager, it was her duty to deal with the incident including following it up.

“She accepts that she was in breach of duty and accepts there is nothing she could say that would have changed minds about the seriousness of that.

“The disciplinary hearing did everything it was supposed to do, she was aware of the allegations put to her and given numerous opportunities to respond.

“The process upset her and was not best practice but didn’t affect the decision, she was dismissed on her own account of the facts.”

A judgement is expected in two weeks.