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Charities distance themselves from abortion tribunal firm

This news post is almost 9 years old

​At least two charities to review relationship with fundraiser after tribunal ruling

Prominent charities are reviewing their contracts with a fundraising firm after a tribunal found it had discriminated against a pregnant woman.

Plan International and World Vision UK – both international development charities - are considering their relationship with Engage Fundraising after an employee was subjected to a catalogue of abuse, including being pressured by a manager to have an abortion.

Teri Cumlin won £12,000 compensation after taking the company to a tribunal for unfair dismissal and sex and pregnancy discrimination.

Her manager Mark Robertson suggested she have an abortion when she became pregnant and later sacked her.

Cumlin, from Maryhill in Glasgow, was also criticised for taking too many toilet breaks and was regularly sent her home without pay.

At one point she was told by Robertson to turn up for shifts later than her colleagues so he could criticise her for being late in front of them.

Plan expects the very highest ethical standards of our fundraisers -

She eventually complained to head office about the manager's conduct but no steps were taken to address it, the tribunal heard.

Now Plan International and World Vision are reviewing their relationship with Engage in light of the tribunal’s judgement.

A spokesperson for Plan said the last time it had worked with the company was March.

"We had no previous knowledge of this tribunal and cannot comment on proceedings,” said the spokesperson.

“We are not currently running a campaign with Engage. However, we have contacted them and understand they are appealing the tribunal verdict.

"Plan expects the very highest ethical standards of our fundraisers and all our fundraising activity is regulated by the Fundraising Standards Board and the Institute of Fundraising.

"We are also active members of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association which regulates all Face2Face fundraising activity."

A spokesman for World Vision UK, confirmed they now have no plans to work with Engage again.

He said: "We no longer work with the company and we've asked them to remove our details from their website."

Engage says on its website: “Our commitment to the training and development of our staff at every level is what sets us apart from other companies and gives us retention levels we can be very proud of.”

Lawyer Agnes Maxwell-Ferguson, of EMC Solicitors, who represented Ms Cumlin, said the behaviour of the company was “staggering”, made worse by the fact it represented charities.

She added: “We hope this case highlights to employers this attitude towards pregnant workers cannot be tolerated in the current workplace.”

TFN has contacted Engage Fundraising for comment.