An AA hotel inspector who was sacked by the organisation after 30 years service in 2007 was unfairly dismissed, a Southampton employment tribunal has ruled.
Jayne Wyatt, a senior AA hotel inspector in the Hotels Services Division, was dismissed by AA owner Saga last October after a row over new terms and conditions.
The dispute began in the autumn of 2006 when AA's private equity owners at the time, CVC and Permira, appointed a new manager at the Hotels Division and changed the terms and conditions of employment.
According to the GMB union, which backed Wyatt's case, the new terms and conditions meant a pay cut of up to £9,000 a year for staff and gave the AA authority to change pay and conditions arrangements in the future without negotiation.
Wyatt made clear her opposition to the changes in an e-mail to staff on 6 February 2007, after which she was victimised, according to the union.
The tribunal, which heard the case during three days in August, one day in September and four days in October, agreed that she was unfairly dismissed. No date has yet been fixed for the damages hearing.
Paul Maloney, GMB national officer, said: "Jayne Wyatt stood up to the bullying and harassment visited on the workforce of the AA by the private equity owners.
"She was victimised for her stand and she was the subject of scurrilous and spurious allegations. Her stand has been vindicated by the employment tribunal which has ruled that she was unfairly dismissed by the AA."
In a statement, the AA said: "The tribunal accepted that the dismissal was because of a breakdown in relationships and not because Ms Wyatt had rejected new terms and conditions offered by the company.
"However, the tribunal went on to say that the dismissal was technically unfair because certain points should have been further investigated by the company. They also found that Ms Wyatt had contributed to her dismissal by her actions and that any compensation should be accordingly reduced."
Speaking to Caterersearch after the result was announced, Wyatt said: "After 30 years of loyal and committed service to the AA and the wider industry I am delighted that the truth behind this awful situation is now coming to light."
Wyatt pointed out that her "contribution" to the dismissal was found just to be the e-mail sent on 6 February and added that the breakdown in relationship was based on "spurious allegations" which are now the subject of further legal action against the AA.
By Daniel Thomas
E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.
Looking for a new job? Find your next hotel job here with Caterersearch.com jobs