The Court of Appeal has ruled that an English Teacher, P J Grosset, who was dismissed for showing a horror film to pupils was discriminated against because of his disability. Mr Grosset, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, has been awarded a reported £646,000* following his dismissal from Joseph Rowntree School in 2014.
What happened in the case?
Mr Grosset had worked at the school since 2011 and following a change in leadership at the school complained of ‘unreasonable deadlines, workload and pressure’ to the new Headteacher in 2013.
In November 2013 Mr Grosset showed the film Halloween an 18 rated film to 15 year old students to discuss the construction of narrative. On discovering this, the school suspended Mr Grosset and dismissed him in 2014. Mr Grosset appealed but this was unsuccessful.
In his evidence Mr Grosset accepted his choice of film was regrettable but that the choice was affected by his stress contributed to by his cystic fibrosis condition. An employment tribunal found Mr Grosset was discriminated against for reasons arising from his disability.
Lord Justice Sales, who heard the appeal with two other judges, stated the tribunal was entitled to conclude Mr Grosset’s sacking was “not proportionate” and without justification.
The school argued in this case that it had a duty to safeguard the pupils. The tribunal accepted this was the aim of the school but the action in dismissing Mr Grosset was not an proportionate means of achieving it.
What can schools do to avoid gross misconduct claims?
In considering a case for gross misconduct, schools need to consider all the circumstances and any medical evidence as acts of gross misconduct may not always warrant a decision to dismiss an employee.
For more information about gross misconduct, please contact Nick Brown in our Education team on 0161 475 7674.
*Reported by the BBC