Domestic abuse charity must pay former director more than £26,000 for unfair dismissal

Charity

A domestic abuse charity has been told to pay more than £26,000 to a former director it unfairly dismissed. 

A ruling from Nottingham Employment Tribunal said Nottinghamshire Independent Domestic Abuse Services should pay £26,387 to Sue Ready, the charity’s former director of service delivery and development. 

A remedy hearing on 2 July met to decide the compensation that Ready should receive after a hearing in February ruled her summary dismissal for alleged gross misconduct had been unfair. 

Ready worked for the charity between August 2016 until her dismissal in November 2019.

The charity dismissed her after concluding that she had breached data protection rules by failing to prevent or report a data breach and attended a networking event while suspended from her role, the ruling said. 

The charity also told the tribunal that Ready had taken more holiday than she was entitled to and misused a charity bank card. 

Ready contended that the investigation carried out by the charity had been inadequate and that the decision to dismiss her had been disproportionate and unreasonable. 

Judge Butler, who presided over both hearings, concluded that the charity’s decision to summarily dismiss Ready did not fall “within the range of responses of a reasonable employer; nor do I consider that the claimant was guilty of gross misconduct”. 

The judge said the charity “did not take the opportunity in the disciplinary or appeal hearings to properly investigate the claimant’s version of events”. 

Judge Butler also said Ready’s partner, Simon Bernacki, who had worked at the charity alongside Ready as director of business development and finance, had also been dismissed after what the judge said appeared to be the same or similar allegations. The judge made no comment on the validity of this dismissal. 

But the judge did strongly criticise the actions of a legal adviser who attended the hearing to support Ready. 

The judge said the man had secretly passed a note to Ready while she was giving evidence, contravening explicit instructions that no advice could be provided while she was being cross-examined. 

But the judge was alerted to the note and said the move had been “frankly outrageous”.  

A statement from the charity said: “We are disappointed with the judgment and have reviewed this at length with our legal advisers.

“We are committed to being a good employer and believe we conduct ourselves in line with professional HR procedures and policies, but we will now examine any lessons we can learn from the case.

“Our focus is on continuing to support the vulnerable families and children of Mansfield, Ashfield and Nottinghamshire.”

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