February 15, 2017
A schoolteacher´s award of £180,000 compensation for workplace disability discrimination has been upheld by an Employment Appeal Tribunal in London.
In November 2013, Philip Grosset (46) – the Head of English at Joseph Rowntree School in York – gave extra classes to a small group of fifteen and sixteen year old pupils to help them prepare for their IGCSE exams, despite suffering from cystic fibrosis and being under extreme stress. Shortly after, Philip was signed off from work due to his ill health, and his classes were taken by the headmaster of the school.
During one of the headmaster´s lessons, it was learned that Philip had shown pupils the X-rated slasher movie Halloween. Philip was suspended and sacked from his £46,000-per-year job in May 2014 for gross misconduct. Philip sought legal advice and made a claim for unfair dismissal due to workplace disability discrimination on the grounds the school did not do enough to accommodate his condition.
Although his claim for unfair dismissal was rejected by an employment tribunal in September 2015, the school was found guilty of workplace disability discrimination and – in December 2015 – ordered to pay Philip £180,000 compensation plus an additional award to be determined to reflect his loss of pension. On behalf of the school, the City of York appealed the decision and the award of compensation.
At the appeal hearing in London, the three appeal judges upheld the decision of the Employment Tribunal. They ruled that, although the decision to dismiss Philip was fair, the school had failed to make reasonable adjustments for the needs of a teacher with cystic fibrosis. In addition to upholding the award of compensation, the judges ruled that the leadership team and governors at the school should undergo training in disability in the workplace.
Speaking after the Employment Appeal Tribunal´s ruling, Philip said: “It was appalling treatment of someone they knew was ill. I was really shocked by the treatment I got and disappointed by their reaction ever since.” Philip has now retired from teaching and works in IT while still waiting for his loss of pension award to be calculated.