Barrack Room Lawyer Needed

Neil ofthe nene

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A friend of mine, no its not me in disguise, is having a problem with a national charity of which he is a member and has recently been removed from a voluntary position.

He was co-ordinator and chair of a sub committee as well as being responsible for setting up and administering a closed group on Facebook. Both positions voluntary and unpaid. A couple of months ago he posted on the group (less than 80 members) asking if other charity members had not received their Spring edition of the charity magazine*. The charity's board regarded this as demonstrating his lack of awareness as to the damage such negative comments could cause to the charity's reputation. Because of this and other undisclosed issues sacked him from all the positions he held. I have seen their letter and the Facebook post so can confirm that what I have been told by him is accurate. The charity board have said they will not enter into correspondence nor will they elaborate on the other matters of concern referred to in their letter.

He has tried to rase a complaint with the charity but been told that their complaints procedure specifically prevents him from doing this. I have read the complaints procedure document and can only see that staff members cannot use that procedure and must raise a grievance in accordance with the staff handbook. Otherwiswe any member of the charity or public can raise a complaint.

I am waiting for confirmation but I sincerely doubt he was issued with a staff handbook or correspondence making it clear he was (unpaid voluntary) staff when appointed to his role. Thus I cannot see how they can refuse his complaint on the grounds of him having been staff. No other reason for exclusion from the procedure seems to fit.

*The post reads

"A question to all members of [charity name], have you received your Spring Journal.

Mine has not arrived, there appears to be a delivery problem in [his local area]. I needed it for a Zoom meeting, National office is sending me another copy."

I know the guy fairly well, he is an enthusiastic, friendly individual who has a questioning mind and will challenge authority if he feels they are not doing things correctly. He would never be rude or nasty but might press for answers where none are forthcoming.

He feels hurt by the way he has been treated and that his character and reputation has been damaged by the actions of the charity's board. He has asked me for advice and moral support.

Anyone got any comments or observations on the situation that I may not have thought of?
 

Lee Richards

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Always difficult to comment when you are only getting the facts from one side and you don't know if there is more to it than is being communicated.
 

Neil ofthe nene

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As I say, I have copies of the correspondence from the charity. Difficult to post it on here without identifying the charity which I don't want to do.
 

Lee Richards

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Don't dispute that Neil but there is usually always more to a situation than is communicated and even flippant comments/emails have the tendency to cause friction to which those involved can be unaware.
Throughout my career I have had to conduct numerous HSE and employment investigations and never had one where something new has not come to light as things unravel and those involved start to "remember" things.

He is a fortunate man to have you being concerned about him.
 

TrickyD

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He has tried to rase a complaint with the charity but been told that their complaints procedure specifically prevents him from doing this. I have read the complaints procedure document and can only see that staff members cannot use that procedure and must raise a grievance in accordance with the staff handbook. Otherwiswe any member of the charity or public can raise a complaint.
If he has been sacked, then he is no longer a staff member, just an ordinary member of public or the charity, so surely he can now make a complaint ?
 

Lee Richards

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"voluntary position." - think this is the key thing here and other than complain, unless there is a question of deformation of character and integrity what can he do?
 

Sam Vimes

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I'm no lawyer, barrack room or otherwise. However, I would ask why he wishes to pursue this? What does he hope to achieve? I can only foresee a couple of possible outcomes. He gets reinstated and is still working (unpaid) for an organization and individuals that have treated him poorly. Alternatively, he doesn't get reinstated. As it stands, he's lost nothing tangible. If he feels it's serious enough, perhaps there's some form of defamation involved. However, going down that road and winning a case is only going to cost the charity. When someone works for free for a charity you can only assume that it's dear to them. Would someone like that really wish to pursue the charity?
 

Maesknoll

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I'm no lawyer, barrack room or otherwise. However, I would ask why he wishes to pursue this? What does he hope to achieve? I can only foresee a couple of possible outcomes. He gets reinstated and is still working (unpaid) for an organization and individuals that have treated him poorly. Alternatively, he doesn't get reinstated. As it stands, he's lost nothing tangible. If he feels it's serious enough, perhaps there's some form of defamation involved. However, going down that road and winning a case is only going to cost the charity. When someone works for free for a charity you can only assume that it's dear to them. Would someone like that really wish to pursue the charity?
Nothing to add to this.
 

G0zzer2

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He could apply, I think, for a judicial review. but it would not be cheap. Not sure whether this can be done in person - probably not; he would probably need a solicitor.
 

Dave

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Too many organisations, and people, put too much importance on their social media 'reputation' and reach when in reality their audiences give scant regard to it and comments made.
Definitely a case of them having too much self importance reading something into nothing
 

Yosemite Sam

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Reading the original post it all seems a bit farcical, if it wasn’t serious. He has been sacked from an unpaid post, and he cannot complain as their complaints procedure won’t allow it.
I assume this charity , or at least the work it does must mean something to him. If he is worried about his character, then do a letter and send it to the 80 members Explaining his side. Tell the charity to do one, and volunteer to another who will appreciate his efforts. It sounds to me that he may have rubbed someone up the wrong way.
 

spanky

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Sounds very shoddy to me.

If they claim he is a member of staff (so he cant raise a grievance) then he must have been dismissed and treated as a member of staff, which means a formal disciplinary hearing that follows their due process, with written charges, witnesses, minutes etc. Which, naturally would include an appeals process.

If he's not a member of staff then this does not apply and he can file a grievance.

A few thoughts...

1) he must have received some instruction on what is expected of him and what he cannot do/say and been shown the social media policy. The charity will need to produce documentation to show this instruction took place - otherwise you've broken the unwritten law, doesn't really hold up

2) has he been invited to put his side of the case forward? Otherwise it's very shoddy and smells of predetermined decision, again a no no

3) undisclosed issues? Are these undisclosed to him, or just to you? Again sounds very dodgy.

4) given the nature of his post (mild criticism at best, but just asking a question at worst) the response seems unjustifiably harsh, especially given it's a closed group and not the whole world. This would be a basis of appeal in it's own right.

Reading between the lines, I suspect there is more to this than one post of FB - he may have put someones nose out of joint for a different reason or someone just took umbrage for something and this is the excuse they were looking for. I suspect, therefore, he's on a hiding to nothing - the same people who have issued summary judgement can probably summarily reject an appeal on the same basis. I think this may be a battle he cannot win, and certainly may not be worth fighting.
 

Dave

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Just a thought, there is absolutely nothing stopping him from putting his version of events and any grievance he might have with the charity out into the public domain using his own newsfeed and going 'public'
As long as he doesn't write anything litigious or libellous, and sticks to the facts, it's not as though they can sack him twice is it?
 
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