Still no cash for tribunal winner

By Simon Rocker, May 27, 2009

A former employee of an Orthodox charity is owed thousands in compensation, months after winning an unfair dismissal claim against it.

Geraldine Fainer was awarded more than £17,000 by Watford Employment Tribunal in December after losing her job at The Clubhouse, a charity which supports Orthodox youngsters and their families in London.

But a spokesman for the organisation said that it had gone into liquidation last month.

Last Friday, Barnet County Court ordered to be paid to Ms Fainer £6,500 which had been previously frozen in two of the charity’s bank accounts.

She said: “I was surprised when I attended court that there was no appearance by The Clubhouse, since they had applied a while ago to stop the payment to me on the grounds that they would be appealing the finding that I had been unfairly dismissed.”

She added that she had received no notification from the charity about it winding up. “The day before the hearing, I checked the Charity Commission website and they were still showing as a viable charity,” she said. “While relieved that the court ordered me to receive the £6,500, I am still owed about another £11,000.”

A spokesman for the charity said: “Unfortunately, due to the credit crunch, The Clubhouse was unsuccessful raising funds and had no option but to cease operations in February. This resulted in The Clubhouse being placed into liquidation in April.”

He said that the charity had been advised that the findings of the tribunal were “unlikely to be upheld” on appeal but it was “unknown whether the liquidator will be pursuing these issues.”

Ms Fainer, a barrister, joined The Clubhouse as a part-time benefits adviser in July 2006.

In October 2007, she queried a benefits claim submitted on behalf of a client by The Clubhouse’s executive director, Dov Rabinowitz.

She asked the charity to investigate the claim under a protective disclosure, which enables employees to raise sensitive issues with their employer without fear of repercussion. Although Mr Rabinowitz and another benefit adviser told the tribunal that the claim was legitimate, they had not explained this to Ms Fainer, it found.

When Mr Rabinowitz emailed her to ask for an apology, she resigned.

The tribunal found that Ms Fainer had been “right to perceive that in effect she was being called upon to withdraw her protective disclosure”, making her position “as it would have any employee’s position, untenable”.

The Clubhouse’s annual expenditure was £2.3 million, according to its accounts for the year ending March 2008, but it had assets of only £9,450.

Last updated: 3:32pm, January 5 2011