Nigerian director at one of Princess Diana’s favourite charities is set to receive a six-figure payout after her boss nicknamed her ‘Looney Tunes’.
The 48 year old Ibukun Adebayo filed a religious and racial bias claim against Turning Point, a drugs, alcohol and mental health charity at East London Tribunal Service, Daily Mail says.
Mrs Adebayo claimed she was unfairly sacked from her £84,000 position as IT director at the charity by its chief executive Lord Victor Adebowale.
The hearing was told that her boss David Hoare referred to her a ‘Looney Tunes’ in one email to
Lord Adebowale and sent another work email about a sex act.
He was given a warning by Lord Adebowale, but Mrs Adebayo a mother-of-five from Bexley was dismissed from her job after she complained about Mr Hoare’s gross misconduct.
Now she is seeking £466,815 in compensation for lost earnings and hurt feelings but says that most of all she would like her job back.
Turning Point adopted Princess Diana as patron in 1985. She worked for the charity until her death and was proud of the way it helped vulnerable people deal with drug and alcohol misuse.
While speaking with Talk Parlour, Mrs Adebayo said:
I’m not seeking £466,815 for previous loss of earnings and injury to feelings as has been stated; rather for previous loss of earnings, injury to feelings and future loss of earnings as a result of my career having been damaged permanently since no one wants to hire someone dismissed by a Lord.
Mrs Adebayo joined the charity in June 2004 and managed over 20 IT workers and a £1million-a-year budget at its central London office.
The former model was once described by a business magazine as ‘an unconventional leader of IT’ after she was interviewed ‘dressed in candy pink’.
In 2011, Mr Hoare sent director of strategic projects Beverley Priest an email about Mrs Adebayo and also wrote about a sex act.
In October 2012, Mr Adebowale emailed Mr Hoare about Mrs Adebayo asking ‘What have we unleashed…?!’ Mr Hoare replied: ‘Looney tunes…’
Later that year, he sent emails poking fun at Mrs Adebayo’s Christian beliefs behind her back, saying she was praying ‘in the wilderness’.
And he said a request for an interview with Mrs Adebayo should be ‘killed’ as they no longer wanted her as the face of the charity.
Mrs Adebayo was devastated to discover all these emails in April 2013 and complained about Mr Hoare. Mr Hoare received only a formal warning for his gross misconduct.
But Lord Adebowale, 52, sacked Mrs Adebayo in August 2013 for ‘hacking into staff emails’.
The tribunal ruled that any reasonable employer would have ‘given genuine and serious consideration’ to firing Mr Hoare for gross misconduct.
It said of Mr Hoare’s X-rated email: ‘By any token, the remark was highly inappropriate, particularly from the second most senior paid officer in a large organisation.
‘Any organisation with the degree of commitment to equal opportunities that Turning Point claims to have would have removed Mr Hoare from being the sponsor of Turning Point’s equal opportunities policies or at the very least given serious consideration to doing so.’
Mrs Adebayo accepted that her hacking amounted to misconduct but the tribunal found it had been a disproportionate response to fire her when Mr Hoare kept his job.
It ruled: “ A reasonable employer would not show such a degree of double standards in how two employees who have committed gross misconduct are treated. ”
The panel found her own behaviour had partly contributed to her dismissal and rejected the majority of her allegations of discrimination.
Mrs Adebayo had previously worked as an IT chief at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Speaking outside court about the abrupt end of her nine year career at Turning Point, she said: ‘Every human being has the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work.
‘I am a committed Christian and therefore have forgiven them. I hope to return to Turning Point to continue in a leadership role in support of the charity’s service users and so as to continue to set an example to my five children.
‘I remain committed to reaching an amicable settlement to the testing period of the last two years.’
Her solicitor Lawrence Davies, of law firm Equal Justice, called for Lord Adebowale and Mr Hoare to resign.
He said: ‘Lord Adebowale’s failure to protect and his victimisation of our client is entirely incompatible with his position as CEO of a leading social care charity.
‘He should resign. They both should. The Charity Commissioners must act on this if Turning Point does not.’
The tribunal is due to decide the amount of Mrs Adebayo’s compensation in September.
Here is how Mrs Adebayo reacted;
Today, the news of my career curve-ball was finally published in the Evening Standard Newspapers – after two years of unemployment, overwhelming shame, and sadness on my part. Ignore the headlines “Diana Charity Chief ‘set for payout'”, my ultimate aim is to return to work rather than for a payout – as I still have so much to contribute to society.
Jose Mourhino returned to Chelsea Football Club, Steve Jobs returned to Apple… there must be other people who have returned to workplaces they were sacked from, only to take their organisations to greater success than previously and that’s why I would like to return to my colleagues at Turning Point, and get on with the work outstanding, pending the time another organisation trusts me enough to hire me.
I’d always been conscious of my name ‘Ibukun Adebayo’, and tried to be the epitome of integrity due to the reputation that people with Nigerian names have. It therefore hurt like crazy when I ended up being made to walk the walk of shame in front of colleagues, including many who looked up to me on July 2nd 2013. I’d worked at Turning Point for 12 to 15 hours a day, for 9 solid years – with one thought alone ‘our clients’ and ‘my 2,900 colleagues’. Lord Victor Adebowale is only human, hence his request to an HR Officer to walk me out.
When I found derogatory emails about me in April 2013, as always, my immediate thoughts were ‘reconciliation’ – which I fought hard for from day one and continue to fight hard for. I cried tears of sadness from knowing how much I respected each and everyone of my peers – including my line manager’s wife i.e. the second HR Director, Mrs Fiona James, who’d given me a ‘high-five’ in January 2013 yelling “Girl-power”, only to attend ET to say “Ibukun wasn’t respected by the senior management team”. We are only human.
About Ibukun Adebayo
Mrs Ibukun Adebayo was born in Balham, South East London, and is a writer, motivational speaker, IT thought leader and IT director of Turning Point, a UK based social enterprise working with people facing a range of complex social care needs. Following qualifications in Mass Communications, Ibukun worked as a broadcaster and journalist abroad, before returning to London to attain a Diploma of Distinction in Journalism and News writing from the London School of Journalism.
She started her IT career as a systems engineer, before moving into senior IT management as head of information technology at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal Albert Hall as head of information systems, and later joined Turning Point as IT direAdebayo
She holds multiple professional IT qualifications, as well as leadership qualifications in programme, project, risk, change and service delivery management, plus a Certificate in Company Direction geared towards Board Directors from the Institute of Directors.
In 2007, Ibukun was elected as a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, in recognition of her professional services within the IT industry. Her hobbies include writing, Fantasy Football, plus FX and Commodities trading, and she is currently pursuing studies in Investment Management.