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Martin Searle Solicitors

Case Study: Sexual Harassment & Bullying In The Workplace

Summary

How Martin Searle Solicitors secured a £40,000 Settlement Agreement for a teacher who was sexually harassed and victimised.

The situation

Joanne had worked for a school since qualifying as a teacher and had experienced a number of problems with other members of staff. This included sexual harassment and bullying by other teachers. Her initial problems were with her line manager who grabbed all of the easier teaching groups, leaving her with the disruptive classes. When Joanne pointed out that this was not fair and very difficult for a newly qualified teacher to deal with, her manager took against her and sought to undermine her in front of her classes. This culminated in an argument whereby her line manager stepped down as Head of Department.

Her new Head of Department was someone who had always made her feel uncomfortable. He regularly leered at her in the corridor and touched her shoulder. He spoke to her in an overly familiar way and made a number of indecent jokes. On several occasions he sent inappropriate emails to Joanne and a number of the other teachers, which contained sexualised images of children.

Joanne made written complaints about both teachers and was told by the Headmaster that she did not have the right to do so.

Her situation deteriorated further when her original Head of Department did not support her admonishment of a pupil and sided with their parents. This led to Joanne becoming extremely upset and leaving the school to go and see her doctor. She informed her Head of Year before leaving, but was later threatened with disciplinary proceedings for taking “unauthorised absence” because the Head of Year had failed to inform the Headmaster that Joanne had explained where she was going.

Joanne’s GP signed her off work for one month with workplace stress but Joanne could not face going back to work – or indeed to teaching at all.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Joanne contacted us at our Gatwick & Crawley solicitor’s office. We advised her that she had a potential claim for sexual harassment and victimisation. Due to the urgent time limits in relation to her complaints of sexual harassment, her discrimination claim had to be issued immediately against both the school and the Local Authority. We were able to issue the claim within just a few days of first meeting Joanne.

We also helped Joanne raise a grievance in relation to all her complaints against her previous Head of Department, current Head of Department, and Headmaster.

The result

The grievance was heard and prior to any decision being made by the Board of Governors, a Settlement Agreement was offered by the Local Authority.

We advised Joanne on the tax implications of Settlement Agreements and negotiated a tax free payment of £40,000. £30,000 was a termination payment, and £10,000 was attributed to Joanne’s injury to feelings arising from the discrimination.

We managed to ensure that the financial contribution under the Settlement Agreement covered a large part of her legal fees, as she had been funding her case herself.

Joanne drafted a work reference which we were able to include as part of her settlement. Along with the compensation, this allowed Joanne to move into a new career and rebuild her life.

To find out how we can help you contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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