In a workplace grievance that sounds like something out of Arrested Development, a trade union is preparing a tribunal case for an apprentice “unfairly dismissed” from a company run by his own mother.
Oliver Clark was employed by Biscoes Solicitors for four years and was only days away from completing a two-year IT apprenticeship at the Portsmouth-based law firm when he was dismissed.
During his employment, he alleges facing “bullying and discriminatory behaviour” on a daily basis, and that his dismissal was carried out “without warning, explanation and without legal obligations being followed.”
Clark’s attempt to appeal his dismissal, along with his multiple grievances, failed. He claims that he was under pressure from the company to withdraw his appeal.
The Biscoes website states the firm’s commitment to “conducting ourselves responsibly and in an ethical manner” and “creating a positive and supportive working environment.”
Nicola Nixon, GMB regional organiser said: “I’ve known some cold and callous actions by employers in the past, but this is by far the worst I’ve ever seen.
“As we have worked through this case with the member, the actions of such a well-established firm of solicitors have frankly appalled the GMB.
“I’ve seen enough in my time as a Union organiser to know that a company’s professional façade can cover up any number of poor work practices and actions, however even I was shocked to find out one of the senior managing directors Alison Lee is in fact our dismissed member’s mother.”
According to the Biscoes website, Lee, who has been with the firm since 1992, has spent 25 years practising family law.
“The Biscoes website clearly states that they pride themselves in providing a professional approach, in a friendly environment, and yet not only did they treat Oliver badly in his time there, they then breached data protection laws by sharing his information with a third party without his consent, which is worrying considering the amount of information they securely hold for clients.
“This process has left our member feeling hurt and bewildered that his own mother could treat him in this manner.
“GMB are in no doubt that the member has been unfairly dismissed and we will be exploring his legal options.”
Biscoes and Lee have been approached for comment.
Polly Smythe is Novara Media’s labour movement correspondent.