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