Somerset

Ex-Clarks Shoes boss loses case for unfair dismissal

Mike Shearwood, the former chief executive of Clarks shoes Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Mike Shearwood was dismissed in June 2018

The former boss of Clarks shoes has lost his case for unfair dismissal after being accused of "inappropriate behaviour".

Mike Shearwood had taken the Somerset-based retailer to an employment tribunal after he was forced out of his post in June last year.

Clarks said Mr Shearwood's conduct was the reason he was made to resign, and an employment panel agreed.

Mr Shearwood had claimed he was whistleblowing on bad practice.

Allegations were made by the 56-year-old against chairman Tom O'Neil, whom he claimed adjusted the minutes of board meetings.

Clarks rejected this, saying Mr Shearwood was fired due to his conduct at work.

The employment tribunal in Bristol heard he had described an employee as "hot", referred to "violent blacks" and made homophobic slurs.

'Cast slurs'

The board made a unanimous decision to ask him to leave on 24 June 2018 and he was forced to resign the following day, the hearing was told.

Barrister Paul Goulding QC, representing Clarks, said Mr Shearwood had "cast slurs on professionals without a shred of evidence".

"He attacked the integrity of Clarks officers, in particular Mr O'Neil," he added.

Mr Shearwood was contractually obliged to comply with the company's code of ethics, the tribunal heard.

Its code stated it was "committed to ensuring its workplaces are free from harassment including reference to gender, race, sexual orientation".

The panel also heard a senior employee, based in the United States, stated "a large portion of the region had been exposed to his inappropriate behaviour".

Two female employees had also indicated they might leave if Mr Shearwood stayed in post.

Mr Shearwood, a former chief executive at Karen Millen, was appointed to Clarks in September 2016.

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