Former Perrys Motor Sales general manager David Walker Smith has been awarded £26,752 after successfully claiming unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal concluded in Manchester.
Walker Smith was general manager at Perrys Motor Sales for three Peugeot garages and two Nissan sites, across East Lancashire, known as the “Blackburn cluster”, when he was dismissed amid claims over discrepancies over bonuses paid by each of the car giants back in June 2016, the Lanchashire Telegraph reported.
Employment Judge Rebecca Howard heard some of the difficulties centred on a £60,000 clawback provision, being sought by Peugeot over a failure to meet training standards.
The hearing heard that, after a problem arose with the Peugeot training website in 2016, the brand made the decision to pay training bonus to its dealerships ‘up front’ with the intention of clawing back a proportion of the bonus if the dealerships did not achieve the online training target set.
Walker Smith was accused of failing to adequately supervise a financial manager, putting the firm at risk of having to pay out the sum.
The same financial manager, who was also dismissed by Perrys, was also found to have shifted around £140,000 in Nissan bonus money from 2016 to offset 2015 losses.
A dismissal letter sent to Walker Smith in June 2016 stated: “You failed to exercise appropriate control in the financial management of the sites under your control, as General Manager you are responsible for the management of all operational aspects of the site including the proper financial management and safeguarding of the company’s assets, it is therefore my decision that you have acted negligently in failing to properly perform your duties and as such I no longer have trust and confidence in your ability to carry out your role to the required standard, for this reason my decision is that your actions amount to gross misconduct and you are therefore summarily dismissed."
In evidence Perrys regional director, John Vilums, explained that in reaching the decision to dismiss he had found that the claimant had committed all the acts of misconduct alleged and he relied upon all of these acts cumulatively as amounting to gross misconduct.
However, the tribunal heard that Perrys managing director, Darren Ardron, later accepted that there was no evidence to support the allegation related to the Nissan bonus and, after an agreement was reached between Peugeot and Perrys, the £60,000 ‘clawback’ payment to Peugeot was never paid.
Tribunal papers revealed that “It was not in dispute that the claimant had an exemplary working record, a clean disciplinary record and 100% attendance and punctuality and that he was well regarded for his ability to achieve high market sales and strong customer satisfaction.”
Ruling in Walker Smith’s favour, Judge Howard said: “The claimant did not have line management responsibility for (the manager) and his financial accounting duties, which were overseen by the financial controller.”
However, Judge Howard decided that because Mr Walker Smith, after a meeting with then Peugeot general manager, Neil Muscrop, had failed to secure a written assurance regarding the clawback, he had left Perry’s exposed to risk.
As a result his compensation payment was reduced by 50%, resulting in the payment of £26,752.