Charity Commission appeals over former case worker's 'unfair dismissal' judgment

Employment Tribunal ruled last month that David Orbison had been constructively unfairly dismissed but rejected other claims

David Orbison
David Orbison

The Charity Commission has lodged an appeal against an Employment Tribunal judgment that it unfairly dismissed David Orbison, a former senior case worker.

Orbison last month won his case for constructive unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunal in Liverpool by a majority verdict, although three other claims including discrimination due to a disability, which related to a clinical diagnosis of anxiety and depression, were rejected.

Orbison resigned from the commission in 2010 following a dispute over an inquiry into the charity African Aids Action, a small charity he was assigned to investigate. He felt that charitable funds were being used for the chair’s personal benefit, and that the commission had treated the charity too leniently.

This disagreement led Orbison to make a complaint about the case under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which is intended to protect whistleblowers, and later to complain that the commission’s handling of delicate cases made it effectively become a "no-touch regulator".

Orbison resigned as a result of the dispute and later took four claims to the Employment Tribunal.

All but one of these claims were dismissed by the Employment Tribunal panel of two lay members and a judge. The two lay members supported a claim that the commission had breached a "duty to make reasonable adjustments" by insisting that Orbison meet one of his senior managers, rather than a diversity officer, to discuss a return to work after he had been signed off with stress.

The tribunal’s judgment says that while Orbison complained of being sidelined, threatened, and publicly humiliated and criticised, senior management were supportive towards Orbison and that they made efforts to protect and accommodate him. However, when commission insisted that he meet a senior manager to discuss his return to work, it found the regulator had not done enough to support him.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission confirmed that it had appealed the decision of constructive unfair dismissal, but declined to make any further comment.

In a statement, Orbison said: "By appealing the decision, once more senior management at the Charity Commission have shown that they are incapable of accepting criticism – this time from an Employment Tribunal. They would rather waste yet more public funds trying to cover their mistakes than simply facing up to the consequences of their bad decisions.

"No expense has been spared in attacking my integrity," he said.

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