Awema employee wins tribunal against ex-boss Naz Malik

The tribunal found unanimously in favour of Sylwia Bobrowska

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A former employee of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association has won her case for sexual harassment against her former boss at an employment tribunal.

Naz Malik, ex-chief executive of Awema, had denied sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation of Sylwia Bobrowska.

But the tribunal's judgement found unanimously in her favour.

She had told the tribunal that Mr Malik had made personal comments and touched her clothing. She was later sacked.

The judgement found against Awema as well as Mr Malik who is personally liable for any financial compensation that may be awarded in the future.

There are all sorts of threads to this story.

It is clearly bad news for Naz Malik. We will see the details of what was decided today over the next few weeks.

We will see whether there is compensation to be paid because, if there is, then that will have to come from Naz Malik's own pocket.

There have been warning signals over Awema for quite some years.

The Wales Audit Office, asked by the Welsh government, is looking at the relationship between the government and an organisation that dealt with millions and millions of pounds in public money.

I think we should expect to see that report in the autumn at which point the assembly's own public accounts committee will want to have a good read of that and look in general at grants management and the way the government has been handling that.

After the ruling, Ms Bobrowska's lawyer Stuart Atherton said: "Sylwia has been subject to conduct over a number of months and she feels elated by the judgement and it is a vindication of the complaints she has been raising.

"She has had someone external look at the situation, heard all the evidence and has taken the view that her allegations of victimisation and harassment are well-founded."

The Swansea-based charity Awema was wound up earlier this year following claims of financial mismanagement and losing Welsh government funding.

'Secret lover'

The tribunal had previously heard that Mr Malik had pointed Ms Bobrowska out in a staff meeting and told her directly she could not have an affair in Swansea without him knowing about it.

She said it made her feel very upset and she approached Mr Malik's daughter Tegwen, the operations manager, lat October to describe the incident and several previous ones where she felt his behaviour was inappropriate.

Ms Bobrowska said she wanted an apology but within 10 minutes she had been suspended and within days she had been dismissed.

The tribunal heard on other occasions Mr Malik had grabbed her cardigan while she was wearing it, saying she did not need to wrap it around her.

Ms Bobrowska said when she received flowers, Mr Malik asked her if she had a secret lover.

She also said that women in the office had been told not to approach men to shake hands "because that would make them look easy".

Mr Malik claimed Ms Bobrowska concocted the allegations along with other workers to disguise their failings at work.

Naz Malik Ex-Awema boss Naz Malik denied Sylwia Bobrowska's allegations

Giving evidence, he said he was a caring boss and in 11 years dealing with more than 100 members of staff, there had been no problems until that point.

However, Ms Bobrowska said there was an atmosphere of fear in the office of both Naz and Tegwen Malik, and that everybody in the office was scared to speak to each other.

Public funding

Awema dealt with people from 150 nationalities supporting people from ethnic minorities.

Administrators were called in to wind up the charity's affairs in February after a report said there was a "fundamental lack of control".

The findings of the Welsh government and Big Lottery Fund report into the spending of £8.4m in public funding were examined by police.

It said charity funds were used to pay for gym memberships for staff worth £2,120, rugby and cricket tickets totalling £800, and a £110 parking fine for Mr Malik.

It also said there was a "clear conflict of interest" because one of the charity's directors reporting to Mr Malik was his daughter Tegwen. There were "considerable increases" in her salary from £20,469 to £50,052.

Mr Malik and finance director Saquib Zia were sacked by the charity.

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