David Adjaye, architect behind Ghana’s controversial National Cathedral, sued: report

Abu Mubarik January 17, 2023
Sir David Adjaye was recently announced as the recipient of the 2021 Royal Gold Medal -- Photo Credit: Josh Huskin

Celebrated architect David Adjaye has been sued in Ghana’s High Court by a former director of Adjaye Associates. Alice Asafu-Adjaye, who said she was sacked in 2015 as associate director of African projects, is claiming $61,903 for ‘unfair termination’, per a suit filed at the Labour Division of Ghana’s Accra High Court.

David Adjaye and the Ghanaian company Adjaye Associates Ghana Ltd are listed as defendants in the suit. According to Architects’ Journal, which first reported the story, Asafu-Adjaye said she was handpicked to run the Ghana office in the capital, Accra. Three years later, the office was shut down.

Asafu-Adjaye in her suit said she was informed that the office was being closed due to its “failure to generate sufficient funds.” She claimed that all staff contracts were terminated with one month’s notice.

She noted in the claim that she was let go without redundancy pay or an offer of relocation costs back to the UK where she was based before relocating to Ghana. According to her, she was paid just four weeks’ notice instead of the required 11 for senior staff.

She argued that her dismissal amounted to a redundancy. However, she claimed that no redundancy procedures were followed in flagrant violation of Ghana’s Labour Act.

Asafu-Adjaye further claimed that Adjaye Associates did not cease operating but continued to bid for contracts including Ghana’s National Cathedral project, through another newly incorporated company, Sir David Adjaye & Associates (SDAA), according to Architects’ Journal.

She said that this was done to avoid paying her redundancy. She also alleged that David Adjaye used workers in his Ghanaian company to do his private business without paying any fees to the company.

All in all, she is claiming “$61,903 in redundancy pay and compensation, costs and damages, plus an order for the defendants to pay the Ghanaian authorities around £3,000 in social security and national insurance (SSNIT) contributions she claims are owed on her wages,” Architects’ Journal wrote.

Meanwhile, Adjaye Associates has denied the allegations leveled against the company. In a statement of defence, the company said Asafu-Adjaye’s employment was terminated in accordance with Ghana’s labor laws and per the new contract signed when she moved to Ghana.

On December 20 last year, David Adjaye’s counsel told the court they had been asked to settle with Asafu-Adjaye out of court. No settlement has been reached, according to Architects’ Journal. The platform said the judge has ruled that the case will be heard at the next court hearing on January 19 if no settlement is reached.

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