A Labor lawmaker unfairly fired a senior councilor and ex-girlfriend after calling him a “first-class idiot” in an email with copied Sir Keir Starmer, established a labor court.
Khalid Mahmood fired Elaina Cohen, his long-term assistant, after she sent him a series of messages accusing him of being “bully”, “spiteful” and an “insecure dishonest womanizer”.
The former shadow minister – who has been an MP for more than 20 years – fired Ms. Cohen, with whom he had dated for several years, for disrespect and attempted intimidation.
But the court ruled that by supervising the disciplinary process himself and deciding to fire her, the 61-year-old had treated her unfairly.
Additionally, the parliamentarian’s decision to stop talking to her after accusing one of her parliamentary staff members of being involved in illegal activities made her feel isolated, the jury ruled.
Compensation can be reduced due to behavior
He will now have to pay his compensation, although the amount may be reduced due to his behavior, the court said.
At the hearing in central London it was said that Ms Cohen started working for Birmingham MP Perry Barr in her House of Commons office in 2003.
Shortly thereafter they entered into a “romantic relationship” that ended no earlier than in 2005, the panel was told.
After their breakup, Ms. Cohen continued to work for Mr. Mahmood, but their relationship became increasingly “dysfunctional”.
On October 11, 2020, the court heard that the couple spent an afternoon “dueling” by email.
As part of that exchange, Mr. Mahmood copied Sir Keir, the Labor leader, in an email referencing his “first-class idiot” comment.
The month following the death of the MP’s father-in-law, Ms. Cohen sent him a “rude and insensitive” email, he was told at the hearing, concluding with the remark “I am amazed every day by the cheating in the parliamentary office. “.
Mr. Mahmood then initiated formal disciplinary action against Ms. Cohen, filing five charges against her, including her emails that led to his firing her in January 2021.
Ms. Cohen took him to court and won his unfair dismissal claims related to the trial and for suffering injury as a result of his complaint.
Demands for discrimination and harassment are denied
However, her claims of religious discrimination and harassment – she was the only Jewish woman on Mr. Mahmood – were rejected.
The jury concluded that although his actions may have been equated with serious misconduct, the way in which his dismissal was carried out was unfair.
“Mr. Mahmood was the complainant, chaired the investigation meeting, chaired the disciplinary hearing and decided to dismiss and also heard the appeal.
“We concluded that not having at least one other decision maker as part of this overall process brought him outside the range of reasonable responses.”
Furthermore, the court found that the decision to stop all contact with her after her January 2020 allegations were wrong.
“There was a need for communication,” the panel said. “By his own admission he had stopped talking to her on the phone. He hasn’t had contact with her from Zoom.
“He largely cut off communication with her. The Court considers that the fact that he did not do so is partly attributable to the protected revelations ”.
A hearing to determine Ms. Cohen’s compensation will be held at a later date.