Dismissed Imam refused ‘stigma damages’

Posted: 10th September 2012

The former Imam of a Doncaster mosque, dismissed because he was not fluent in English, has failed to win compensation for what he claimed was the ‘stigma’ of launching an unfair dismissal claim against his employers.

Fida Ur-Rehman was dismissed from his post at the Doncaster Jahia Mosque in April 2009 because his employers wanted an Imam who could communicate with all the local faithful - who speak a range of different languages and dialects - using English as a common tongue.

He was given no reasons for his dismissal and, in May 2011, an employment tribunal, after ruling that he had been an employee of the mosque, awarded him damages for unfair dismissal.

The award was limited to a notional 26-week period of loss of employment on the basis that, had correct procedures been followed, he could have been fairly dismissed on lack of capability grounds.

Mr Ur-Rehman also sought damages for what he argued was the ‘stigma’ of his dismissal from the mosque and his decision to seek redress for his unfair dismissal. He argued that his subsequent employability had been blighted.

After leaving Doncaster, he had been employed by the Abu Haneefa Educational Trust (AHET), in Slough, Berkshire, but argued that he was dismissed from that post in August 2010 after his employers were informed of his employment tribunal claim against the mosque.

He claimed that he was put under pressure to withdraw his employment tribunal case and that AHET dismissed him after being warned by a trustee of the Doncaster mosque that he was certain ‘to repeat that trick here in Slough’.

However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has now rejected Mr Ur-Rehman's bid for further compensation, refusing to accept that the employment tribunal proceedings against the mosque created a stigma that affected his employability.

Dismissing Mr Ur-Rehman’s appeal against an earlier ruling that there was no link between his dismissal by AHET and the events in Doncaster, the tribunal ruled: ‘He simply failed to prove that he had suffered from the stigma he alleged’.

The tribunal went on to also dismiss Mr Ur-Rehman's claim for lost holiday pay, ruling that the evidence on that issue was too ‘vague, unspecific, contradictory and uncertain’ to sustain a valid compensation claim.