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£346,000 awarded for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination

Makbool Javaid

A teacher, whose claims for constructive dismissal and disability discrimination were upheld by an employment tribunal, has been awarded £346,000 compensation. Wales Online report that an ET had ruled last year that Nicola Sinclair (S) had been constructively dismissed after being forced to resign by Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High School. It also found that some of the employer’s practices caused S to suffer discrimination due to her disability and that it failed to make reasonable adjustments to assist her to continue to do her job.

At the remedies hearing, S’s psychiatrist said she suffered severe stress because of the way she was managed when returning to work in a slightly altered job following several months off with mental health problems. After complaints from some pupils, S was told she would be formally observed while teaching and she asked to meet the new head teacher, Mr Belli, to discuss her concerns. Belli told S to accept a settlement or be put through capability proceedings (that only one in 10 teachers pass). S’s barrister said that victimisation and bullying were the major stresses that ultimately caused her breakdown, the schools’ behaviour was “outrageous” and S should have been treated with kid gloves and not with an iron fist.

Three months after resigning, S was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and was hospitalised with bipolar disorder. Awarding S a total of £346,175, the ET said that it had to consider what would have happened if a supportive programme had been put in place. Had performance management been handled with assistance and sensitivity, S may well have been able to sustain a long career with performance at an adequate level.

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