Bank worker who phoned boss on Christmas Day unfairly dismissed

A bank worker has won his claim of unfair dismissal after he was made redundant following the breakdown of his relationship with his bosses.

Joynal Choudhury had worked for Gatehouse Bank since 2015 and took on a new role as head of real estate in March 2018.

He immediately suffered a strained relationship with his line manager, Mr Stockwell. Choudhury admitted to having ‘little respect’ for Stockwell, who he did not believe had the necessary experience and knowledge of commercial real estate.

Ahead of Christmas 2018, Choudhury became concerned that he was personally liable for a loan for a company asset in Paris.

He emailed Stockwell and Charles Haresnape, chief executive officer of Gatehouse Bank, asking for clarification. A series of emails were exchanged in the following days and on Christmas morning Choudhury phoned Stockwell to discuss the matter.

On Christmas evening, Haresnape emailed Choudhury with the message: “Do you realise that for many today is a festive period, and your emails could have waited until after tomorrow. Please think about this.”

During the subsequent meeting in January, Choudhury claimed Haresnape said he was annoyed he had been disturbed on Christmas Day and questioned whether Choudhury would like it if he had been disturbed him during Eid celebrations.

In June 2019, a project Choudhury was working on took a downturn and Stockwell told Haresnape the deal was ‘dead in the water’.

During a phone call they discussed a team restructure which would include letting Choudhury go. Haresnape reportedly referred to Choudhury as a ‘pain in the arse’.

The conversation took place when Choudhury was absent on leave for Eid. Harenape said: “It's now Eid as far as he is concerned and therefore this is dead important probably as well, unlike Christmas for us, which was not important in the slightest.”

A restructuring was implemented, and Choudhury was informed he was being made redundant.

He submitted an appeal, but it was not upheld so he took his case to the Employment Tribunal, which found in his favour.

Judge Joffe said: “The telephone call was evidence that a planned outcome of the redundancy process was the dismissal of the claimant because they had come to dislike him.”

Choudhury was awarded £20,134.25 for unfair dismissal.

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