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Teacher wins disability discrimination claim after being dismissed for allegedly falling asleep in class

In Mr JS v Alpha Plus Group Limited, a senior teacher at Wetherby Prep School for Boys won a disability discrimination lawsuit after being dismissed for allegedly falling asleep in class. Mr JS, Head of Religious Education for 16 years, was terminated for “unacceptable” behavior, including falling asleep during lessons. He argued these claims, explaining his actions and highlighting his struggle with anxiety and depression. The tribunal ruled in his favor, finding that he was dismissed without proper hearing. This case underscores the importance of fair treatment for employees with disabilities. Read on for more details on this compelling tribunal decision.
learning

In Mr JS v Alpha Plus Group Limited a senior teacher at Wetherby Prep School for Boys successfully sued for disability discrimination after being dismissed for allegedly falling asleep in class.

Mr JS, Head of Religious Education with a 16-year tenure at the £27,000-a-year school, was terminated after his absences and behaviour were deemed detrimental. The school cited “unacceptable” behaviour, including falling asleep during lessons four times in one academic year, with one instance lasting approximately 10 minutes in February 2022.

Mr JS contested these claims, providing various explanations for why he was seen with his eyes closed during lessons. After being dismissed, he sued the school’s owners, Alpha Plus, for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. An employment judge ruled in his favour, noting he was sacked “without being heard.”

Mr JS had struggled with anxiety and depression following a personal relationship breakdown in January 2020, resulting in intermittent absences. An occupational health evaluation confirmed his conditions and poor sleep due to his mental health. Despite being cleared by his doctor to return in September 2021, the school did not provide him with a proper return-to-work process.

Employment Judge Tamara Lewis concluded that Smith was dismissed without an opportunity to address the investigation report and that his behaviour was a consequence of his disability. His claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination were upheld, while other claims were dismissed.

A remedy hearing to determine his compensation is scheduled for later this year.

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