The former managing director of Eville and Jones (E&J) has lost a claim for unfair and wrongful dismissal against the company.
Jason Aldiss brought the action after he was dismissed from his role with the Leeds-based firm two years ago, on the grounds of gross misconduct.
But the claim was dismissed by an employment tribunal, which accepted that finding in relation to what it called a “sham” transaction, as well as condemning other aspects of his case as “wholly implausible”.
The 53-page judgment has now been published, following a six-day hearing in September.
Dr Aldiss claimed both unfair and wrongful dismissal, as well as unfavorable treatment arising from disability, failing to make reasonable adjustments for disability and unauthorized wage deductions, all of which were rejected. He withdrew a separate claim of direct disability discrimination.
The Leeds employment tribunal heard that Dr Aldiss was suspended from his post in May 2020 and dismissed three months later, after a disciplinary process found he had committed three actions that amounted to gross misconduct.
The tribunal specifically accepted the finding in relation to one of those matters – a £30,000 payment made to the Body Transformation Gym.
The report said representations made to the disciplinary hearing on Dr Aldiss’ behalf claimed he was acting as a “business angel” and there was no intention of the money being repaid to him, with services being provided to E&J in return instead.
However, the tribunal said: “We found that the transaction was a sham; he was not acting as a business angel and there was no intention for well-being services to be provided to the first respondent.
“Rather, this was a device designed to enable the claimant to receive his bonus indirectly and without paying tax on it.”
The tribunal said it was “not proportionate” for it to provide detailed findings on the other allegations of gross misconduct, but said it had found much of his evidence relating to a shadow director’s loan account and invoices for his own restaurant business to be “equally implausible”.
But Dr Aldiss argued the allegations against him were “trumped up” and the company’s co-chair, Rob Jones, had wanted to remove him – a claim Dr Jones denied.
Dr Aldiss also raised questions about the independence of the person appointed to investigate the allegations against him – describing him as a “puppet” – and the employment lawyer who oversaw the subsequent disciplinary hearing, as she worked for the same company that was advising E&J on human resources issues relating to his case.
However, the lawyer insisted her only involvement was to consider the disciplinary papers, conduct the hearing and recommend an outcome.
In a post shared via social media, Dr Aldiss accused E&J of mounting “persistent legal attacks” on him and suggested that his mental health condition had been used as an excuse to remove him from the firm, despite the tribunal finding there was no evidence to support that suggestion.
Dr Aldiss said he had not been surprised by the outcome, suggesting E&J had presented a “twisted version of events” to the tribunal and adding: “I shall of course appeal.”
But E&J said it had no option but to fire Dr. Aldiss because of the misconduct that had been discovered.
A spokesperson added: “We are pleased that the tribunal panel recognized that E&J acted reasonably and with integrity in taking the decision to dismiss, enabling us to put this matter behind us and continue to focus on delivering a great service for our customers.”