Fired chief executive awarded £75,000 damages

The former chief executive of Disability Action Yorkshire has been awarded more than £75,000 in compensation after the charity defied an employment tribunal ruling to reinstate her.

An employment tribunal hearing in Manchester last year ruled that Judith Oliver had been unfairly dismissed by the charity in November 2006 and should be reinstated with backdated pay.

But the charity refused Oliver access to the building when she returned to work (Third Sector, 5 March) and a further hearing was scheduled to set damages.

The written judgement from the hearing, held in May and published last week, shows that the tribunal assessed Oliver's total losses at almost £200,000 but was limited to awarding the maximum amount of £60,600, plus a further £15,080 for the charity's defiance of the tribunal's reinstatement order.

The £15,080 is subject to an appeal by the charity against the reinstatement ruling. No date has yet been set for the appeal.

Martyn Weller, deputy chair of the charity's board, said that although the charity admitted its procedures had been unfair, it stood by its original decision to dismiss Oliver.

"It is now over two years since Oliver was in post and the progress the charity has made since has been outstanding," he said.

Weller said the amount awarded to Oliver was within what the charity had budgeted for.

William Garnett, head of the employment department at specialist voluntary sector law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, said it was surprising the charity had not settled out of court once it had lost the case.

"In nine out of 10 cases, once you have been found liable then you will settle," he said.

The employment tribunal judge reprimanded Weller for displaying "rude and inappropriate" demeanour before the panel and making "ill-advised" comments during the hearing, the judgement says.

Oliver was not available for comment.

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