A CEO of a charity in Scotland is now set to receive more than $51,000 in damages after he was fired over his opposition to gay marriage.
The Robertson Trust, the largest independent grant-making trust in Scotland has been ordered to pay over $51,000 to its former CEO after it was found that the company unfairly dismissed him over his biblical beliefs in marriage. Kenneth Ferguson, a former chief executive in the company, was dismissed in March 2020.
According to Third Sector, the Glasgow Employment Tribunal concluded that Robertson Trust and then-chair Shonaig Macpherson must pay £41,628 or about $52,388 to Ferguson after he was let go from his job over his opposition to gay marriage. The tribunal found that the ex-CEO of Robertson Trust was dismissed after Stirling Free Church, at which he serves as an elder, signed an agreement to lease a building that was owned by the charity.
Macpherson was allegedly angry with the agreement because she believed that the church's views on gay marriage might reflect on the trust. She raised this issue with the other trustees. Later, Macpherson and Robertson Trust argued in court that they had dismissed Ferguson due to his poor performance.
Former Executive of Scotland Charity Dismissed Because of His Biblical Beliefs
Upon investigation, the Glasgow Employment Tribunal however found that Ferguson had previously received positive feedback during his nine years as CEO of Robertson Trust. The tribunal found that Ferguson did not attend discussions relating to the leased venue to avoid conflict of interest. During the remedy hearing, Ferguson said that his dismissal made him feel "humiliated" because he was met with suspicion from peers in the sector.
The Glasgow tribunal also heard that "a funder asked if he had been guilty of financial misfeasance, as he thought that the speed of the termination of employment suggested fraud." Ferguson told the court that he "did not have access to his personal possessions including notebooks and business cards of contacts, for a period of approximately six months," things which would be vital in his search for new employment.
The tribunal then ruled that Macpherson and Robertson Trust were both responsible for paying Ferguson £35,107 or about $44,190, while the Scotland charity should pay £6,521 or about $8,200. Robertson Trust chair Mark Batho pledged to pay Ferguson "without delay" and that an "independent review" is already underway to "ensure key lessons are learned."
Church of Scotland Votes to Allow Same-sex Marriages
Elsewhere in Scotland, the general assembly of the national church of about 1,353 congregations has voted to allow same-sex marriages after warnings that its historical opposition has contributed to the church's decline, The Guardian reported. The decision was made after a vote of 274 to 136 on Monday to allow its ministers and deacons to officiate same-sex marriages, ending a centuries-old ban on gay weddings. This decision makes the Church of Scotland the largest church in the United Kingdom to allow gay marriages.