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Tribunal finds charity employee was discrimated against


Claims the role was being "deconstructed"

A Glasgow employment tribunal has ordered a charity to pay a former employee £13,400.

Grace Communion International has been told to pay the sum to Rachel Montgomery, who was employed as a communications coordinator.

The tribunal found the charity, which runs 23 churches across the UK and Ireland, guilty of disability-based harassment and victimisation.

Montgomery was employed by the charity from October 2020 until her sacking in March 2022.

After her contract was terminated, she claimed the charity had refused to take account of her dyslexia – a protected characteristic under disability legislation.

In September 2021, the tribunal heard there was increasing friction in the working relationship between the claimant and Peter Mill and his wife Jackie –  pastors at the Edinburgh Church she worked from. Peter had management responsibilities for the claimant in some areas.

On 7 September 2021 the claimant emailed Gavin Henderson, national ministry leader at the church, with the subject heading ‘Workplace Gaslighting’. That was a grievance against Peter and Jackie Mill.

That email included “The subject of gaslighting in the workplace 15 is the topic I’d like to bring to your attention because if this is something I’m suffering then others my [sic] also be suffering as this is something that happens vertically and horizontally in management. For that reason I can’t stay quiet although I am fully aware of what I’m risking in doing so.”

It also found Montgomery’s claim of victimisation was partially successful.

A further grievance was raised, this time  against Henderson, in December 2021.

A zoom meeting was held in November 2021 about the management of the church and its website.

On 5 November, Montgomery sent another email to Henderson about the meeting, saying she was “perturbed” about the mention of her overseeing the website, which was incorrect.

The email reads: “It has left me feeling puzzled that it wasn’t corrected, in regards to a website that has not been completed. 

“The possible consequences of this might well result (and viewing last night’s comments, already have resulted) in a negative perception of my abilities.”

On 8 December the claimant emailed David Silcox, chair of the board, to raise a grievance against Henderson.

In the email, Montgomery claimed her role was being “deconstructed” and changed to an administrative role.

She claimed she would not be good at the role because of her dyslexia.

The email reads: “Given the severity of things that have happened over the past couple of weeks, I really need to activate whistleblowing now and I need to understand what protections I have as an employee.

“I am sorry to say that over and above this, I want to raise and proceed with an unlawful harassment and discrimination complaint against Gavin Henderson. 

“My job role since raising a grievance is being deconstructed at an astonishingly quick speed and I have been subjected to meetings with no agenda regarding performance which has come as a surprise as I’ve never had complaints about my work before.”

A board meeting was held on 27 February 2022 in which the board decided to terminate Montgomery’s contract.

The tribunal concluded her claim of harassment based on her protected characteristic of disability was successful.

It also found Montgomery’s claim of victimisation was partially successful.

Claims concerning whistleblowing, automatic unfair dismissal, disability and sex discrimination were dismissed by the tribunal.

She was awarded £13,428 for injury to feelings, including interest. 

Grace has been contacted for comment.



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