Sacked Turning Point IT director was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules

Ibukun Adebayo said she was unfairly dismissed by the charity's chief executive, Lord Victor Adebowale, on the grounds of religious and racial bias after complaining about comments in emails written by the deputy chief, David Hoare

Charity found to have unfairly dismissed Ibukun Adebayo
Charity found to have unfairly dismissed Ibukun Adebayo

A former IT director at Turning Point has won a claim of unfair dismissal against the drug, alcohol and mental health charity.

At the employment tribunal, Ibukun Adebayo claimed that she was unfairly dismissed by the charity on the grounds of religious and racial bias after she complained about comments she had found in emails written by David Hoare, deputy chief executive of Turning Point, in April 2013.

Turning Point said it was appealing against the ruling.

Lawrence Davies of the law firm Equal Justice, who represented Adebayo, told Third Sector the hearing heard that Hoare referred to Adebayo as "Looney Tunes" in an email to Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point, and made fun of her Christian beliefs.

When Adebayo complained about Hoare’s conduct, she was dismissed from her job in August 2013 for hacking into staff emails. Hoare was given a formal warning, Davies confirmed.

The tribunal found that Adebayo’s actions were gross misconduct but it had been a disproportionate response to dismiss her when Hoare retained his job.

It ruled that any reasonable employer would have "given genuine and serious consideration" to dismissing Hoare for gross misconduct.

The judgment said: "Any organisation with the degree of commitment to equal opportunities that Turning Point claims to have would have removed Mr Hoare from being the sponsor of Turning Point’s equal opportunities policies or at the very least given serious consideration to doing so."

The judgment added: "Mr Hoare and Lord Adebowale were the least convincing of Turning Point’s witnesses. All Turning Point’s witnesses that were involved in the treatment of Ms Adebayo’s grievance towards Mr Hoare and how to respond to what she discovered about him were highly unconvincing.

"There was no convincing evidence that Lord Adebowale gave consideration to Mr Hoare’s actions in the light of him being the second most senior employee of Turning Point."

Adebayo is seeking £466,815 in compensation for lost earnings and hurt feelings and reinstatement to the role that she held for nine years. A further hearing will be held in September to determine what compensation she should receive.

Davies told Third Sector that Adebowale and Hoare should resign from their leadership of Turning Point. "Given the nature of the charity itself, the comments are fundamentally incompatible with the spirit and the remit of that organisation," he said. "In fact, they are diametrically opposed. That is why they should resign."

A spokeswoman for Turning Point said: "Turning Point is party to an ongoing legal process. We have appealed the judgment and it is currently with the Employment Appeal Tribunal. We therefore are respecting that process and do not intend to comment further while the proceedings are ongoing."

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