A former teacher of the Joseph Rowntree School in York has been awarded almost £180,000 in compensation following his dismissal. That figure could increase to up to £500,000 for an additional award in relation to loss of pension.
Mr Grosset suffers from cystic fibrosis but was able to undertake his duties effectively as the former headteacher made reasonable adjustments to help him manage his condition. However, when a new headteacher took over in 2013, those adjustments were no longer made. In addition, Mr Grosset’s workload steadily increased, which led to him having problems with stress and anxiety as well as reduced lung function. A medical report stated that Mr Grosset had lost two years of his life expectancy as a result.
During a period of absence, the new headteacher discovered that Mr Grosset had shown an 18-rated horror film to pupils aged 15 and 16. Despite receiving no complaints from pupils or parents, Mr Grosset was suspended on allegations of gross misconduct.
Mr Grosset admitted fault at the disciplinary hearing but stated that he had been under a great deal of stress in mitigation of his actions. Nevertheless, he was later dismissed for gross misconduct.
The Employment Tribunal found that there had been ‘serious and substantial’ acts of discrimination, both relating to the school’s failure to make reasonable adjustments for Mr Grosset and for its failure to take the effect of his disability into account when deciding on the disciplinary outcome.
The local council, against whom the claim was raised, unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the finding of discrimination. In addition to the compensation awarded, the school has been ordered to undergo training on disability in the workplace.
This case serves as a reminder that, as well as an employer having a duty to make reasonable adjustments to allow a disabled employee to remain in work, employers will usually also be expected to take the effect of a disability into account during proceedings such as discipline and performance management.
If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, or would like to discuss any issue related to disability discrimination, please contact Seanpaul McCahill.