Employment tribunal rejects most claims made against CoolTan Arts by former chief

Michelle Baharier, founder of the Southwark-based arts charity, was sacked in 2016, but only one of the ten claims she made is accepted by a Croydon employment tribunal

An employment tribunal has rejected the majority of claims made against the defunct mental health charity CoolTan Arts by its founder and former chief executive.

Michelle Baharier was sacked in 2016 by the Southwark-based charity, which ceased trading in June this year amid funding difficulties.

An employment tribunal in Croydon, south London, heard 10 claims from Baharier, including that she had been subject to victimisation, wrongful dismissal, disability discrimination and a failure to make reasonable adjustments by the charity, which offered arts activities for people with poor mental health.

The tribunal, which consisted of hearings that took place in October last year and February this year, ruled against Baharier for all of the claims except one – that she had been subject to sex and disability harassment.

It found that her dismissal was "procedurally unfair but substantively fair".

The tribunal rejected claims by Baharier that she had been subject to sex and disability discrimination by Lillian Nalumansi, chair of CoolTan, and a claim of harassment because of disability against Richard Truss, a CoolTan trustee.

Baharier said she had applied for reconsideration of the judgment and was seeking legal advice to help her with any future appeal.

The charity was founded by Baharier and registered with the Charity Commission in 1997, from when she chaired the organisation until 2004. She became the charity’s chief executive in 2006.

Jeremy Frost and Stephen Wadsted of the Frost Group were appointed joint liquidators of the charity in June.

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