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bunnybarmy

Dismissed from charity trustee board unfairly

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I have absolutely no idea if this is the correct forum, so please forgive me if I've posted in the wrong place!

 

This is rather a long story, so please bear with me.
 

I’ve worked for a rabbit charity for over 10 years. I’m a trustee on the board and have always had a good relationship with the rather difficult chairperson. I have several rabbits in my care at the moment, and their vet bills are considerable, but the charity pays for their medical needs. That same veterinary practice often receives charitable donations for us which we collect when they come in. These can include rabbit food, bedding and other things.
 

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were in the process of separating. It was and is a painful time, and when the vet called to say they had more items for our charity, my daughter said she would call in and pick up the items in my stead. She did so, noticing that some of the items were for cats as well. One of the assistants at the practice said the contents where correct and helped my daughter to carry them out to her car. My daughter brought the donation to me and put everything away. I did notice later that some of the items where not for our charity, so I realised what must have happened and phoned the cat charity and said I would drop off the items the next time I was passing through, and they said that was fine.
 

Honestly, because of my personal circumstances at the time, I didn’t give it a lot of thought until I received a scathing letter from the charity’s chairperson. To cut a LONG story short, she said she’d received a phone call from the veterinary practice to say I had stolen items from a cupboard meant for another charity (the items were in fact on the floor of the practice after being removed from the cupboard by a member of staff), and that I had been removed from the board of trustees. Her language was very offensive – she called me a thief, she assumed that I would not return the rabbits in my care, and she hinted that she had problems with other members of my family, although she did not elaborate on the latter accusation and has not addressed that to this day!
 

I was stunned and devastated that not only did this person, with whom I had worked closely for so long, accuse me of theft, she dismissed me with NO opportunity to defend myself to the board, there was NO investigation and she said she would no longer support the rabbits in my care. This person had trusted me so much, she intended leaving them all in my care in case anything should happen to her!
 

Bear in mind that these are all rescue rabbits, and my home and extensive gardens are the only comfortable and caring home and family they have ever known and she wants to remove them from me, which would be distressing both to me and the rabbits as they would need to adapt to new surroundings and companions.
 

I wrote back to her with evidence that I had had no intention of keeping the items, i.e. I had a receipt showing I had purchased my own cat food AFTER I had received the cat items by mistake. The veterinary practice admitted it was their fault and that neither I nor my daughter were to blame for their mistake. I also asked that the rabbits stay with me, and the charity continue to pay for their medical care for the remainder of their lives. After all, surely an animal charity would consider the welfare of the animals they have dedicated their resources to protect?
 

However, to make matters worse, the veterinary practice is refusing to get involved saying that the ‘dispute’ is between me and the charity. They are refusing to even sign a statement saying that the mistake was their fault, and the owner of the practice refused to take my call on the basis that she ‘does not talk to people’. This whole situation started because of a phone call from the veterinary practice to the charity!
 

I contacted the other members of the board of trustees with my explanation, but they didn’t even address my concerns, they were more concerned about backing up the chairperson, whom everyone seems to be afraid of!
 

I did contact a solicitor who said that as I hadn’t received due process I was still technically a trustee, but the board  won’t acknowledge that.
 

I’m absolutely in bits over all of this. Apart from my personal situation, which is painful enough, I feel I have been treated abominably and that the chairperson has acted in a cowardly, unethical and illegal fashion. I was told by someone else who knows her that her ‘letter writing is legendary’.  I honestly have no idea what to do next. The solicitor gave me advice for free, but I can’t afford to continue with legal assistance as I’m now trying to support myself and my daughter on a part-time income, and one of the rabbits needs dental treatment which I can’t afford to pay for myself.
 

I contacted the charity commission who also seemed very reluctant to get involved, saying that this was between me and the charity itself.
 

Any advice would be very much appreciated!

 

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I think your topic would be better placed here...... Employment and minimum wage problems forum..please continue to post here to your topic.

 

Andy


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Thanks, I've done that. How do I delete this topic?

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Andyorch will have moved it for you to the correct forum, so you don't need to delete anything just keep posting


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If you had been an employee the procedure they followed would certainly have been improper (no investigation, no formal hearing, not allowed to respond to the allegation etc) and you would have been able to bring claim for unfair dismissal. But unfortunately you aren't an employee, you are a trustee and cannot use those procedures.

 

What does the charity's trust deed say about removing trustees? 

 

What do you want to achieve? Considering the way the way the chair has behaved and that the other trustees have backed up the chair and not supported you why would you want to get back onto the charity board?

 

What do you want to happen to the rescue rabbits you are looking after? Do you consider they have been permanently re-homed with you and so are now 'yours'? Or are they the charity's that you are temporarily looking after?

Edited by Ethel Street

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OP doesn't seem to want to get back on the board, and they have said they just want the charity to leave the rabbits with them for the rest of their lives. It appears that the rabbits still technically belong to the charity, but OP wants to continue caring for them rather than cause them any upheaval. It sound reasonable if OP has been falsely accused. 

 

It's disgusting that someone can take this attitude and believe the word of a person at the end of the phone without looking into it, or at least giving her trusted friend the benefit of the doubt. 

 

Perhaps OP can sue for slander?


Realise the impotence of proofreading everything you write.

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A defamation/slander case requires very deep pockets, angel. Minimum starting estimate is £10k.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Don't think there is Legal Aid for slander and Libel,  Might be worth looking at Employment Tribunal, but it might not apply to Trustees as is debatable they are employees.


We could do with some help from you.

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Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

 

The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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I definately dont want to be on the board of trustees anymore after the way I have been treated but what I do want is a meeting with all the trustees, including the chair, and for them to present any evidence they have that I committed this theft! I could then set the record straight to their faces. I want an apology and a retraction from them all, but especially from the chair. All as I want concerning the rabbits is to continue to look after them for the rest of their natural lives. All the rabbits in my care have medical issues which is why they came to me in the first place as they could not be rehomed because of the care they need and the high vets bills. Some have been with me for years. For the charity to uproot them shows me that they do not have the animals best interests at heart. A lottery win would be good now as not only could I afford to look after the rabbits on my own but I could sue the pants of all of them!

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Oh. And I have applied for a copy of the charities trust deed from the charity commission.

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Hi

 

It sounds like you have been instantly dismissed from the charity as a Trustee due to the allegations made they felt it was severe enough to do this.

 

As you have been a trustee for some years you should be aware of there disciplinary process.

 

Have you got this officially in writing from the charity that your are dismissed as a trustee and were given the opportunity to appeal there decision?

 

Have you asked them for a copy of there disciplinary procedure and have you officially appealed this decision?

 

Have you asked them for a copy that you signed of the Board/Trustees Members Code of Conduct? if not ask in writing for a copy

 

As for the rabbits in your care were part of the charities work before your dismissal you need to ensure they are given back to the charity and any of the charities property and I would advise putting it in writing to the charity that they need to collect them and give them 7 or 14 days to do so.

 

 


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I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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