Friday, 11 January 2008

Press Release on behalf of Elaine Storkey

Press release on behalf of Dr. Elaine Storkey surrounding her unfair dismissal from Wycliffe Hall

Issued by Mortimers Solicitors

Following the pre-hearing review in the Reading Employment Tribunal on Monday 7th January Dr. Storkey is very pleased that Wycliffe Hall has acknowledged that she had been dismissed unfairly and has accepted that appropriate compensation is payable.

This was not merely a procedural matter. Dr Storkey brought a claim against the Hall alleging both that procedures were not followed and there were no grounds for dismissal.

The Hall, as Dr Storkey’s employer had alleged that Dr Storkey contributed to her dismissal in that there had been a breakdown of trust as a result of Dr Storkey’s behaviour. This was strongly contested by Dr. Storkey whose contention was that any breakdown of trust and confidence was due to the conduct of the Principal, the failure by the Hall to consider the concerns repeatedly presented by a large number of staff members, and the further failure to properly address her written grievance against the Principal.

Dr. Storkey had raised a formal grievance to the Hall Council, concerning the treatment to which she had been subjected. But that procedure which had been commenced in February 2007 was not concluded, before being prematurely terminated by her dismissal.

At the hearing the Hall formally withdrew the allegations it had previously made against Dr. Storkey and agreed a settlement for this part of her claim which will equate to her salary and benefits until her previously anticipated date of retirement together with a 50% uplift in recognition of its unlawful failure to follow statutory procedures.

The Tribunal, given Dr. Storkey’s intent on pursuing her claim for religious discrimination, has listed the matter for a preliminary issue hearing later in the year. At that hearing the Tribunal will consider whether the religion or belief relied upon by Dr. Storkey which she defines (for this purpose) as ‘open evangelicalism and/or membership of Fulcrum’ constitutes a religion or belief for the purposes of the Employment Equality (Religion of Belief) Regulations 2003 as distinct from conservative evangelicalism.

The Tribunal, expressing some disquiet as to its qualification to determine matters of theology has given the parties leave to adduce independent expert evidence and to call one witness, which they anticipated in the case of Dr. Storkey, given her expertise, would be her.

It is Dr Storkey’s hope that the resolution of these issues will leave Wycliffe Hall in a stronger position to pursue its calling of training people for Christian ministry in a context of truth and good governance.

The case continues.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 11 January 2008 at 6:03pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

Hmmm, this gets interestinger and interestinger.

Note this: "The Hall, as Dr Storkey’s employer had alleged that Dr Storkey contributed to her dismissal in that there had been a breakdown of trust as a result of Dr Storkey’s behaviour."

In a case for unfair dismissal (including unfair selection for redundancy), an employer may seek to reduce its liability to pay compensation - perhaps to zero - by persuading the tribunal that the employee "contributed" to his/her dismissal, or that the result would have been the same even if it had done things correctly. (I was once involved in a case as a union official which we "won", but where the employee got no compensation since he would still have been sacked if the company had acted fairly.)

Effectively, this is what Wycliffe is trying to do here, although there is little indication of what her alleged "contribution" to her dismissal was. If the "behaviour" was her pursuing a grievance, the college is in deep doo-doo. Religious discrimination is a very new issue in British employment law. They may well also hope that Dr Storkey's closeness to normal retirement age will encourage her to settle, since this could limit the compensation she would get by pursuing the case.

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Friday, 11 January 2008 at 6:44pm GMT

My prayers are that not only Wycliffe Hall, but other religious organisations contemplate what it means to treat people unfairly.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6551

It would be nice to see more cooperation and less exclusionism caused by wedge factor lobbyists trying to unfairly increase their share of a finite pie by depriving others of their portion.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Friday, 11 January 2008 at 9:17pm GMT

This is markedly different from the Press Release from Wycliffe Hall under the name of Helen Mitchell posted on your site. It is hardly likely that Mortimers solicitors would have issued if it is not true. But in that case, the Wycliffe Hall Press statement is exposed as a rather crude spin.

So who is going to answer the outstanding questions: why did they break the law, why did they ignore staff concerns, why did they show indifference to resignations, why did they not let the council know what was going on, why did they dismiss Storkey then try to blame her for their own failings, why did they try to cover up? And now, why have they put out a misleading press release?

It seems close to moral anarchy. And this outfit is training our future priests.

Posted by: philbody on Friday, 11 January 2008 at 10:34pm GMT

"So who is going to answer the outstanding questions: why did they break the law, why did they ignore staff concerns, why did they show indifference to resignations, why did they not let the council know what was going on, why did they dismiss Storkey then try to blame her for their own failings, why did they try to cover up? And now, why have they put out a misleading press release?"

I will:
1. God is on their side
2. God is on their side.
3. God is on their side.
4. God is on their side.
5. God is on their side.
6. God is on their side.
7. God is on their side.

When one has a clearly spelled out Law, given by God Himself, then one must follow said clear, God given Law. If one does, one has bought God's loyalty and favour. If one follows the Law, nothing one does is wrong. Even if it goes against the laws of man, what are they in comparison to the Law of God? And don't go on about the spirit of the Law. The spirit, as far as I can see, is to be found in the letter.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 14 January 2008 at 2:03pm GMT

Am I the only person who has spotted this rant from an obviously frustrated current Wycliffe student? Obviously not the usual carefully-placed towing-the-line student response.

http://inthylight.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/richard-turnbull-speaks-at-rts-orlando-on-the-state-of-evangelicalism/

Posted by: Anon. on Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 2:15pm GMT

Interesting, anon. Thanks.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 4:56pm GMT

Clearly this case is at heart bullying. I note that comments say that this sort of action is rare. It is not rare. What is rare is someone who is willing to take on a powerful system and say "enough is enough". My husband and I have been supporting people and children who have been bullied as well as adult survivors of child abuse. Not the same? Bullying is bullying. We have seen and experienced ourselves institutional bullying in Christian Organisations for years. Often these incidents have been covered up or settled out of court. Hopefully this will open the debate about how churches and institutions should conduct themselves in truth and in love.

Posted by: Ann Weatherly on Tuesday, 4 March 2008 at 4:29pm GMT
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