Procedure stalls hearing on Lepra

The hearing to decide what damages should be awarded to a former employee who was unfairly dismissed from overseas medical aid charity Lepra has been stalled by last-minute disagreements over the organisation's grievance procedure.

Rokunuz Zaman, who worked at the charity as Bangladesh programmes officer, had his claim of constructive dismissal upheld by an employment tribunal last July (Third Sector, 25 July 2007).

But a recent damages hearing at east London's Stratford tribunal was postponed when June Laidler, the chairwoman, found that the charity's offer to draft in an independent human resources consultant had not been followed through. The consultant was due to establish whether Lepra's grievance procedure had been fair.

Laidler requested that the parties should explain the reason for this omission so she could assess which side had backed out of the investigation. If Lepra is found to have withdrawn the offer, lawyers believe it could have a significant effect on damages awarded to Zaman by the tribunal.

During the hearing, Zaman repeated his claim that Lepra had given him 15 minutes to resign or be dismissed, and that he had not been told that he could appeal against his dismissal.

Lepra maintains that Zaman did not appeal because he was under the false impression that Terry Vasey, the charity's chief executive, would look into the issue on his return from a visit to India. The next hearing is scheduled for 16 April.

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