Failure to investigate adequately results in a pay out of £45,000!

A male teacher at an all-girls grammar school was awarded almost £45,000 after he was sacked over sex assault claims which pupils allegedly later said they made up ‘for fun’. The former maths and computing teacher was said to be targeted by pupils who wanted to end his career by alleging he had assaulted them by touching their thighs and massaging their shoulders.

The teacher has now been awarded £44,868 after a tribunal in Bristol decided that the school had carried out a ‘wholly inadequate’ investigation and failed to ‘provide a safe working environment for its staff, in particular the men”, with the judge stating that in such circumstances where a career is likely to be ended, the investigation has to be as full as possible, stating that the investigation in this case “Fell well short of that. The school accepted the evidence of the younger pupils without challenge or exploration and discounted, ignored or avoided finding contrary evidence.”

The investigation focused on reports from younger pupils alleging that the teacher stroked their thighs and winked at them. But older pupils reported that they had overheard the younger girls discussing the “joke” and stating that they wanted to have the teacher fired “for fun”. However, the tribunal heard that the school ‘appeared to reject’ the older girls’ account, despite some of the younger pupils later withdrawing their complaints.

This case demonstrates, as many have in recent months, that failure to thoroughly investigate is likely to result in an unfair dismissal. The investigation is one of the most important aspects of any disciplinary situation. 121 HR Solutions provides training for managers in investigations, investigative techniques and investigation report writing. For further information, contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk.

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