Case Review: Teacher unfairly dismissed for gardening without a risk assessment

An employment tribunal found that Tracey Smith from South Yorkshire had been unfairly dismissed from Aldine House, a secure unit for problem children in Sheffield.

The claimant was awarded £70,000, after being accused of breaking regulations over discipline, poor relationships with work colleagues and breaking health and safety rules. One allegation was that Miss Smith had pruned a bush in the gardens without carrying out a risk assessment.

She was awarded the maximum possible amount, and Sheffield Council, which operates the secure unit, said it was considering an appeal against the award. They commented “

Miss Smith, who remains unemployed, had worked there for three years when she was suspended in August 2010 and sacked the following May, despite having a 12 year career in mainstream schools.

The tribunal heard that Miss Smith had reported to management about bullying behaviour from her line manager, which was potentially putting herself and the unit’s residents at risk.

After she was sacked she was placed on the “dismissed persons register” which has damaged her chances of getting new employment. Miss Smith commented after the ruling, “The case has destroyed my career.”

If you feel you have been unfairly dismissed from a local authority, give us a call FREE on 0800 014 8727 for an informal and confidential discussion with our experienced legal team.