Grandfather 'forced' to sell family home after 'unlawful' redundancy

Business manager, 72, wins £42,000 in unfair dismissal claim after his boss asked if he liked his new company car – before he was sacked and told to give it back

  • George Dolby, 73, won £42,000 after legal battle with ex-employer Stuart Plant 
  • He had met director Stuart Sayer in a Peterborough car park for a work ‘catch up’ 
  • The grandfather was asked by his former boss how he liked his company car, replying how he liked it ‘very much’, before being fired in November 2018
  • Mr Dolby had to sell his family home to make ends meet after being made redundant, and now earns minimum wage working as a fruit and veg wholesaler

A business manager has been awarded £42,000 after winning a legal battle with his former boss who asked him how he liked his new company car before firing him shortly after.

George Dolby, 73, had met owner and managing director Stuart Sayer, of Stuart Plant Ltd, for a simple work ‘catch-up’ at a hotel, an employment tribunal heard.  

The pair walked through the car park of Holiday Inn West in Peterborough when Mr Dolby, who had been working at the company for eight years, was asked how he liked his company car.

He told Sayer that he liked it ‘very much’, but was immediately told afterwards that he was being made redundant – a move the employment judge slammed for being done in a ‘brutal manner’.  

The grandfather had to sell his family home that he had lived in for 35 years as a result and now earns minimum wage working for a fruit and vegetable wholesaler.

After claiming he was unfairly dismissed, the tribunal found in his favour and he will now be awarded an entire years-worth of his previous £42,000 salary. 

George Dolby, then 71, was dismissed in a ‘brutal manner’ after meeting his former boss Stuart Sayer for a ‘catch up’ in a Peterborough hotel car park

The hearing had been told Mr Dolby began working for Stuart Plant Limited, a company which sells generators, pumps and lighting towers, in January 2010 where he was was in charge of key account managers. 

On Friday November 2, 2018, at about 3pm, Mr Dolby was called by Mr Sayer who asked him to meet an hour later at the Holiday Inn West in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, for a ‘catch-up’. 

They met in the reception area of the hotel and spent an hour talking about general business issues, including the resignation of one of the key account managers, the tribunal heard. 

Earlier that year, Mr Dolby had been given a new company car and Mr Sayer asked his employee whether he liked it. 

Mr Dolby said he did ‘very much’ and then ‘out of the blue’, his boss told him he was being fired, the panel heard. 

He then drove home ‘very upset’ and later received a letter stating his position was being made redundant, he would receive £8,000 severance pay and the car would be collected a week later. 

The pair walked through Holiday Inn West, Peterborough car park (above) when Mr Dolby, who had been working at the company for eight years, was asked how he liked his company car

Mr Dolby sent two letters to his boss – one requesting his £15,000 bonus which he had received two years running and the other challenging the legality of the decision but both were ignored, the panel heard. 

The hearing was also told that due to losing his job, Mr Dolby was ‘forced’ to sell his family home and downsize to a smaller property in a cheaper area. 

He briefly worked at supermarket giant M&S before joining World Wide Fruit where, now aged 73, he works permanently as a fruit packer and sorter earning £8.72 an hour. 

Mr Sayer told the tribunal he had tried to offer Mr Dolby the vacant key account manager position, but Mr Dolby denied this and it was not accepted by employment judge Sarah Moore. 

Addressing the tribunal, held remotely in Norwich, Judge Moore said: ‘What transpired in the car park was merely a brief conversation in which Mr Sayer told Mr Dolby without warning that he was being made redundant.

‘It was not a meeting, and the consultation was not truncated, it was non-existent. The dismissal was plainly unfair.

‘Indeed, it is hard to conceive of a more brutal manner in which an employee’s employment might be terminated.’ 

Mr Dolby will be paid £42,000 as compensation. 

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