Awema FD was unfairly dismissed, judge concludes

21 Aug 2012 News

The finance director of the now defunct All Wales Ethnic Minority Association was unfairly dismissed, the employment tribunal judge has ruled.

The finance director of the now defunct All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (Awema) was unfairly dismissed, the employment tribunal judge has ruled.

Saquib Zia was sacked in what the judge called a "textbook example of how not to dismiss somebody", according to a BBC News report. He was awarded £4,010 compensation.

The ruling follows that of another former Awema employee, Sylwia Bobrowska, who won her case of sexual harrassment against the charity's CEO in June, after she was dismissed just two days after requesting an apology for inappropriate comments directed towards her.

In the latest turn of events for Awema, employment tribunal judge, Roger Harper, said he was "astonished" that the organisation had "actively ignored its own dismissal procedures" with Zia.

Zia was dismissed, together with the CEO Naz Malik on 17 February 2012 amidst a scandal that led to the equality charity’s closure earlier this year. Zia had sparked an investigation into the charity when he contacted the Welsh government to raise concerns about its governance. The inquiry concluded that there were "significant and fundamental failures in the control and governance framework of Awema" and that "failings permeated the whole of the organisation". This resulted in the Welsh government and Big Lottery Fund revoking all of their funding to the charity, ultimately resulting in its closure.

Chair Rita Austin, who had been appointed to the position two days before Zia raised the concerns, suspended him on 12 January before dismissing him the next month. 

But giving his verdict, Harper advised that Zia was "substantively and procedurally unfairly dismissed". He added that the testimonies of Austin and Malik during the employment tribunal were "evasive", the BBC reports.

"I now feel vindicated by the decision of the employment tribunal that my dismissal was unfair," Zia said in a statement after the decision. "I now look forward to putting this episode behind me and I hope that the remaining members of the Awema board can accept and learn the lessons of its own failings that have led to Awema's demise," he added.

The Charity Commission and Wales Audit Office are currently carrying out separate investigations into the charity, which employed 8 people and was supported by 20 volunteers. 

 

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