Case law updates

Teacher unfairly dismissed after school dissuaded witnesses from attending hearing

A teacher was unfairly dismissed after her employer failed to make reasonable efforts to encourage witnesses to attend disciplinary hearings. The Employment Tribunal found that Ms Lewis, a teacher at Tairgwaith Primary School, was unfairly dismissed after the school discouraged witnesses from attending a disciplinary hearing.

The school had asked a specialist agency to investigate the teacher’s use of unnecessary force on two children. This found there was a case to answer. However at both the disciplinary hearing and the appeal hearing Ms Lewis sought the attendance of two teaching assistants who had given evidence of her mishandling one of the children, but they did not attend.

Ms Lewis was found to have mishandled one of the children and failed to report she had done this. As this amounted to gross misconduct, Lewis was dismissed. In ruling on the unfair dismissal however, the tribunal agreed that Ms Lewis had used unnecessary force, leading to the basic award and compensation for her dismissal being reduced by 100 per cent, with other claims of disability discrimination and victimisation also dismissed.