Bristol-based firm Bevan Ashford is facing a charge of constructive dismissal from a former marketing executive.
The firm, which is well-known in the South West for its employment work, failed to stop “systematic bullying” in its marketing department by its former head Sarah Hall, according to Erica Hodkinson.
Sources allege that Hall’s departure followed investigations into bullying throughout the department but the firm has rebutted the claims, saying that Hall left the firm through “mutual consent”.
Nick Jarrett-Kerr, managing partner at Bevan Ashford, says: “We are facing a claim of constructive dismissal but not on the grounds of bullying,” says Jarrett-Kerr. “It is being strenuously defended, we are saying that the allegation is without foundation.”
Hodkinson is claiming that failure to stop systematic bullying within the department over a 18-month period caused her and her seven colleagues to suffer from stress, leading to an exodus from the marketing team.
Hodkinson claims that by the time the problem was resolved only two members of staff remained and that they were left covering for those that had bailed out.
Jarrett-Kerr says that the marketing team now comprises five staff members and points to forthcoming appointments, such as the new marketing director Andy Duxbury who is joining from the RAC, but sources claim that only one is a full-time trained marketing expert.
Countering the allegations Jarret-Kerr showed the The Lawyer an article published in November last year about Hodkinson by the The Western Press, a Bristol-based newspaper. The article was about home-working, and she is quoted as saying of Bevan Ashford: “They really do try to be accommodating. They want to attract good people who want to stay and they realise that having children doesn’t make you less valuable.”
Hodkinson did work from home for most of last year, but a source says that this was because she was suffering from stress.
He adds that Hodkinson only cooperated with the article as part of her job to promote Bevan Ashford. No date has been set for the tribunal.