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Drama teacher wins unfair dismissal case after asthma aggravated by pupils’ deodorants

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Grant-Ryder v The Governing Body Of The Maelor School, Mrs. Alison Grant-Ryder, a drama teacher was unfairly dismissed after suffering asthma attacks when schoolkids sprayed their deodorants.

An employment tribunal heard that Grant-Ryder, 62, was diagnosed with late-onset asthma which led to her being off work from Maelor School in Wrexham, North Wales. She had worked at the school for nearly three decades. The tribunal heard in 2013 Mrs Grant-Ryder, of Penley, had noticed her classroom floor was beginning to rise and split. Months later she had her first asthma attack at work and an ambulance was called.

Another classroom then used by her suffered from damp. Deodorants and hairsprays were banned at school. But in 2016 the drama teacher had her first of many asthma attacks triggered by pupils’ aerosols, the hearing was told, leading to her spending more time off.

The tribunal ruled that the decision to dismiss her ‘was based upon an inadequate consideration of her prognosis’.

‘There was, in our judgment, an inherent unfairness in dismissing the claimant when there was evidence that the cause of her long history of multiple, short-term absences was under control and had been for at least a year,’ the tribunal panel declared. The drama tutor won compensation for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.

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