A hybrid estate agency in Newcastle upon Tyne has batted off an unfair dismissal case brought by a former employee, although the company paid out for under payment of salary following a previous tribunal judgement.
LiveHere.co.uk, which in 2018 rebranded as Bricks & Mortar, was taken to an Employment Tribunal by former business development employee Simon Blaylock.
He brought claims of unfair, constructive dismissal, wrongful dismissal and a claim for compensation for failure to make payments for holiday pay.
All the claims were contested by the estate agency, which employs a strapline that it’s the ‘digital estate agent on the high street’. The company launched in 2003 as a traditional lettings agency principally serving Newcastle’s thriving students lettings sector.
It has three shareholders/directors and 20 employees and has recently been seeking to expand into property sales and block management.
Blaylock, who worked for the company between 2015 and 2019, had been tasked with building these new areas of the business, bringing with him a ten-year property industry track record.
The tribunal heard that minor disputes began arising between Blaylock and his MD, former Foxtons agent Stuart Nickloes.
The pair disagreed over Blaylock’s request for leave, time off following his mother’s cancer diagnosis, his clothing, the accuracy of touting letters and an on one occasion ‘smelling of alcohol’.
Matters came to a head on 16th August 2019 when the pair had an argument and, following a meeting, the next Monday Blaylock was advised not to come into the office and instead invited to attend a further ‘investigatory meeting’.
After more to-ing and fro-ing including seven grievances submitted to the company by Blaylock, he formally resigned, saying: “It is my belief that returning to work in a hostile environment as you have demanded has the potential to have a negative impact on my mental health … I believe the company has a hidden agenda of covertly making my role redundant”.
The company asked him to reconsider, but the dispute went to a tribunal that met in late September last year, the result of which has now been published.
After quizzing both sides, Judge A E Pitt dismissed Blaylock’s unfair and wrongful dismissal claims but did award him £435 in holiday pay and £1,141 wrongly deducted from his final salary payment for ‘unauthorised absence from work’.