Suffolk teacher was told she ‘brought it on herself’ after pupil sexually assaulted her
A Suffolk teacher sexually assaulted by a pupil has won a £50,000 compensation payout after a judge ruled she was discriminated against and unfairly dismissed.
Employment judge Martin Warren told a tribunal that a 17-year-old boy – a pupil at the special school the teacher worked at – put his hand up her dress and assaulted her last summer.
The panel heard she was left shocked, upset and injured by the incident but felt the episode was not recognised as an assault by senior management.
In evidence provided to the hearing, she said another staff member accused her of bringing it on herself – with the school’s headteacher suggesting it was part of her job to deal with “challenging behaviour”.
“She was obviously very shocked and upset by the episode and I suggested that she undergo some counselling,” a doctor who assessed her after the assault told the tribunal.
“She has clearly been under a lot of stress and has lost a lot of weight over the last nine months as it has been a very difficult time with her finally leaving her post and now the resulting tribunal.”
The teacher, who expressed fears about what might have happened if she was left on her own with the pupil, stopped working at the school after resigning in December last year.
She had taken sick leave to recover from the ordeal but when she returned was presented with a document with the title ‘advice for working with pupil A’.
The teacher took this as implying she had acted inappropriately, not the pupil.
Mr Warren said she described herself as “utterly devastated” after the return to work meeting.
He added: “(The teacher) says that she would now like to leave Suffolk because she does not feel able to work there.
“She speaks of grieving for the loss of her job and her career and that she does not feel able to trust people in charge to keep her safe whilst she is in a classroom.
“She is consumed by grief in this respect and that she finds it difficult to motivate herself to get up and get dressed every day.”
The panel found the teacher was required to work in a “dangerous” environment where she was at risk of suffering a sexual assault.
Bury St Edmunds employment tribunal awarded her £52,493 – £33,642 for sex discrimination and £18,851 for unfair dismissal.