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Muslim banker unfairly dismissed after sending emails on Christmas Day

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Mr J Choudhury v Gatehouse Bank  Joynal Choudhury, head of real estate at Gatehouse, sued the bank for unfair dismissal after he was made redundant in a company restructuring in August 2019.

In the year leading up to his dismissal Mr Choudhury’s relationship with CEO Charles Haresnape and Chief Commercial Officer Paul Stockwell dramatically soured. In late 2018, Choudhury grew concerned that he was personally liable for a loan for a company real estate asset in Paris and emailed the company’s CFO, Stockwell and Haresnape on 18 December for clarification. A series of emails were sent back and forth, and Choudhury called Stockwell on the morning of 25 December, as well as sending further emails asking for clarification. Stockwell responded by email to say that the respondent would fully indemnify the claimant.

On the evening of 25 December, Haresnape, who had been copied in to the correspondence, wrote to the claimant: “Do you realise that for many today is a festive period and your emails could have waited until after tomorrow. Please think about this.”

In June 2019, the panel heard Mr Choudhury was on leave for Eid, attending mosque and visiting family and friends. On the same day, Mr Haresnape and Mr Stockwell were discussing a company restructure, which would include letting Mr Choudhury go.

The panel ruled that the redundancy process was essentially a sham as it had already been decided that Mr Choudhary would lose his job.

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