Ibukun Adebayo, 48, was partially successful with her claims at the East London Employment Tribunal after pursued Turning Point (a drugs, alcohol and mental health charity) in claims for unfair dismissal, race discrimination, religious belief discrimination, and victimisation.
The East London Employment Tribunal heard evidence in Mrs Adebayo’s claim that she had joined the organisation in 2004 and that she had risen to become a director of the firm, managing more than 20 staff and overseeing a £1 million annual budget. The three-person Employment Tribunal panel also heard evidence that Mrs Adebayo’s boss, Mr David Hoare, had sent an email to the chief executive, Lord Adebowale, referring to Ms Adebayo as “Looney Tunes” and, further, that Mr Hoare had sent an emails mocking Mrs Adebayo’s Christian beliefs, stating that she was praying “in the wilderness”.
Mr Hoare was given a formal warning by Lord Adebowale after Mrs Adebayo discovered Mr Hoare’s emails in 2013 and complained. After complaining about Mr Hoare Mrs Adebayo was subsequently disciplined and dismissed by Lord Adebowale on allegations that she had “hacked into staff emails”.
The East London Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal of Mrs Adebayo constituted an act of victimisation and found in her favour on this point. The Tribunal also found that giving Mr Hoare a formal warning whilst dismissing Mrs Adebayo was a “striking degree of double standards”.
The Employment Tribunal also found in Mrs Adebayo’s favour in her claim for unfair dismissal. However, the Tribunal determined that Mrs Adebayo had partly contributed to her dismissal through her actions and stated that any compensation awarded would be reduced to reflect Mrs Adebayo’s contributory conduct.
A remedy hearing will be heard in September 2015 to determine what compensation Mrs Adebayo will be awarded for her claims. Mrs Adebayo is seeking £466,815 in lost earnings and injury to feelings, although she is also attempting to regain her job at the charity.
Mrs Adebayo commented after the Employment Tribunal: “I am a committed Christian and have therefore forgiven them. I hope to return to Turning Point.”
A spokeswoman for Turning Point stated that Turning Point was “unable to comment further” due to ongoing legal proceedings but that the charity currently planned to appeal the Employment Tribunal’s judgment.
Chris Hadrill, specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the claim: “If an employee complains that they have been discriminated against then the employer must be extremely careful not to subject that employee to a detriment because they have complained – if the employer does so then this potentially opens it up to Employment Tribunal proceedings that can be expensive, time-consuming, and damaging in terms of publicity.”