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Charity Commission Workplace Tensions Revealed

In a bitterly fought case that revealed seething workplace tensions within the Charity Commission, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has delivered a serious blow to the compensation hopes of an anxious and depressed worker who claimed that he was humiliated, undermined and victimised by his superiors.

The man had become embroiled in disagreements relating to an investigation into a particular charity and claimed that his bosses had failed to support him. He went off sick, suffering from mental health problems which amounted to a disability. When he was invited to a meeting to discuss his future, he objected to the proposed presence of a particular manager and penned a resignation letter.

Following a 17-day hearing, an Employment Tribunal (ET) rejected the man’s claim that he had been unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing.  However, he succeeded in his claim that the Commission, in calling him to the meeting, had failed to make reasonable adjustments and that his constructive dismissal was unfair.

In allowing the Commission’s appeal, the EAT found that its purpose in calling the meeting was to secure, rather than to hinder, the man’s return to work. The Commission’s actions were supported by medical evidence and were quite incapable of amounting to a repudiatory breach of contract.

The ET had also failed to give reasons for its conclusion that it was unreasonable to require a face-to-face meeting between the man and the particular manager to whom he objected. There had been no identification of any substantial disadvantage that the man may have suffered. In the circumstances, discrimination issues were sent back for re-hearing by a fresh ET.