Case Review: Sex Offender’s mother wins unfair dismissal claim

Teaching Assistant Tracy Hodgkinson brought an unfair dismissal claim against her former employer, a primary school in Ipswich, Suffolk. Mrs Hodgkinson lost her job in January 2012. She felt she had been unfairly dismissed following her decision to keep in touch with her convicted sex-offender son.

Mrs Hodgkinson’s son was found guilty of grooming and sexual activity with an underage girl in May 2010 and was jailed for 2.5 years.

She informed her employer about the conviction,  but explained to the school that she wanted to maintain contact with him. Mrs Hodgkinson had lost her daughter to cancer when she was just 10 years old.

She claimed that her employer wanted to get rid of her as soon as she informed them of her son’s arrest, despite her having 10 years’ service with the primary school in various jobs.

The Employment Tribunal found that Mrs Hodgkinson’s sacking was an unfair dismissal from her job, but agreed with the school that following adverse publicity it would be inappropriate to reinstate her.

Mrs Hodgkinson told the BBC that she was pleased to have won her unfair dismissal claim, but that as a result of the adverse publicity her son had – ironically – chosen not to keep in contact with her.[1]

The Headteacher of the primary school commented: “We are disappointed the tribunal did not see fit to uphold our decision to dismiss Mrs Hodgkinson. However we are pleased the judge agreed with our view that it would be inappropriate to reinstate her.”