Great Tey: Dinner lady’s two-year fight for justice ‘one step closer’
18:46 12 February 2013
A PRIMARY school dinner lady sacked after telling a parent her daughter had been bullied has won the latest stage of her case against unfair dismissal.
Unison said Carol Hill, of Great Tey, near Colchester, was now in line for compensation after a two-year battle.
She was sacked from her £30-a-week lunchtime job at Great Tey Primary School in 2009 after telling a parent she had found her daughter tied to a fence with whip marks to her legs.
An employment tribunal found two years ago that she had been unfairly dismissed, but added later that she had contributed to her dismissal, so her compensation would be reduced.
Unison said that the Employment Appeal Tribunal had upheld all grounds of appeal, so the level of compensation must be considered again.
Mrs Hill, of Chappel Road, said: “I am delighted with the outcome. This appeal has never been about money, but about protecting the children in my care and my right to speak out about what I witnessed at school that day.
“It has been a very stressful ordeal but I feel a step closer to justice.”
Mrs Hill, who had worked at the school for seven years, was on duty when the pupil was tied up to a fence with a skipping rope by boys and was crying.
Later, while working as a volunteer leader at the local Beaver Scouts, Mrs Hill met the girl’s parents and explained what had happened. The parents reported the incident to the police and withdrew their child from the school.
The school claimed that Mrs Hill broke confidentiality by talking about the incident to the girl’s parents, and then committed gross misconduct when she spoke to the media about her subsequent suspension.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Carol has been put through a terrible ordeal by the school and lost a job she truly loved. The value of someone being free to speak out against injustice must be upheld and this decision by the Employment Appeal Tribunal strengthens and clarifies this important principle.
“Unison has long campaigned for staff to be able to speak up when they see wrongdoing in the workplace.
“This important principle was highlighted very recently in the Francis Report into Mid-Staffordshire Hospital. Staff must be able to raise concerns without fear of recrimination in order to protect the people in their care.”