Teacher dismissed for pruning hedge was unfairly dismissed

by Employment Law Advice Solicitors on January 30, 2013

A former teacher at a secure unit for problem youngsters in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, has won her unfair dismissal claim against her former employers after she was dismissed in 2011 for allegedly breaching health and safety rules, reports the Telegraph.

Ms Tracey Smith, 43, worked for Sheffield Council at Aldine House, a secure unit for eight young offenders and other problem youngsters, for a number of years before her dismissal in 2011. The problems for Ms Smith commenced in 2010 when she submitted grievances to her employer complaining of bullying and malpractice by her line manager. Ms Smith was subsequently suspended on full pay from her job in August 2010 as a result of five allegations made against her, ranging from pruning a bush without undertaking a risk assessment, to disciplining one of the problem youngsters, to breaking health and safety rules, and, finally, having a poor relationship with other staff members. Ms Smith was subsequently on full pay for 9 months and was dismissed in May 2011 after a disciplinary hearing. She took advice from employment law solicitors and decided to issue an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal after compromise agreement negotiations failed.

The claim went to the Employment Tribunal in Sheffield in September 2012 and she was successful in her claim for unfair dismissal. The Employment Tribunal held that Sheffield Council’s decision to dismiss her was not within the range of reasonable responses in the circumstances and that her dismissal was therefore unfair. She was awarded £18,000 for loss of earnings at this hearing but was subsequently awarded a further £54,200 after a second remedies hearing was held earlier this month. The total £72,400 awarded is the maximum award for unfair dismissal that can be made in the Employment Tribunal. Discrimination compensation is, however, uncapped. Ms Smith’s award was extremely high (relative to most unfair dismissal cases) as she had not contributed in any way to her dismissal and her ability to obtain new employment had been severely impaired by the fact that she had been placed on the “dismissed persons register”, making it extremely difficult for her to obtain new employment in her chosen profession. Her name has only been removed from the register after the Employment Tribunal result.

Sheffield Council commented after the judgment that they were considering appealing the judgment. However, they also stated that it would be inappropriate for them to comment further at this stage. Ms Smith’s representative however stated that she was “very happy” with the result and that justice had been achieved for her in her unfair dismissal claim.

Employment Law Advice Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in the City of London and Richmond.

Employment Law Advice Solicitors

Employment Law Advice Solicitors

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