A church choir master also an organist who lost his job due to an alleged ‘power struggle’ has claimed unfair dismissal but was opposed by the church council alleging that the choir master was working only in an honorary capacity and had not been an employee.
Mark Checkley of Belbroughton the director of music for churches in the Belbroughton and Fairfield areas lost his appointment with the Parochial Council of Belbroughton and the nearby village of Fairfield.
He sought approval at a Birmingham Employment Tribunal preliminary hearing to go ahead with compensation claims for unfair dismissal and for the unauthorised deduction of wages against the church council.
Employment law lawyer representing the church council had opposed the cases going ahead alleging that Mr Checkley had worked in an honorary capacity and that he was not an employee to seek compensation for unfair dismissal.
Employment law solicitor for Mr Checkley argued that although he had not been a member of the clergy his office came under the clergy and he was being paid under contract.
Mr Checkley, who joined the church council in 1995, donated half of his payments to the church, said the counsel.
St Mark’s and Holy Trinity are two main churches in the area.
The tribunal was told Mr Checkley was suspended and eventually dismissed following internal issues which due to alleged “power struggle.”
Mr Checkley admitted he had several altercations with another colleague and that they” did not get on and did not like each other”.
The tribunal was told Mr Checkley’s job was to produce music for services at Holy Trinity in Belbroughton and St Mark’s in Fairfield and that there had been a discussion about one choir serving two churches plus the formation of a village choral society.
There had also been talk about Mr Checkley moving to a church in Clent, it was said.
Mr Checkley was said to have been absent from his appointments at one stage while suffering from a chest infection.
Tribunal judge Vera Jones decided Mr Checkley had been an employee and that he could go ahead with his compensation claims for unfair dismissal and for the unauthorised deduction of wages at a full tribunal hearing at a later date.
She ruled that she was satisfied that there was a contract of employment.