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29th August 2019

Tribunal Tale – Teacher pushed out for refusing to apologise to pupil

Daniel Goodey was a Principal Teacher at the High School of Dundee (HSoD) from August 2004 until his dismissal in July 2018.

In early 2018 Goodey asked a pupil (X) to complete a piece of work alongside another pupil (Y). X complained about having to work with Y, but as she had no good reason for not wishing to do so, Goodey did not assign her to another partner.

In response to this, X walked out the classroom, prompting Goodey to make a sound of frustration and to tell X not to walk away angry.

X’s mother then complained to the school and stated that she did not want X to continue to be taught by Goodey, which HSoD eventually agreed to. HSoD then raised a complaint of unprofessional conduct against Goodey after he refused to provide a written apology to X.

Goodey raised concerns about feeling that he was being bullied and harassed in relation to HSoD’s handling of the complaint, particularly by the Rector, John Halliday. However, his grievance was not upheld by HSoD, which ignored its own complaints policy and suggested that Goodey’s own behaviour might be investigated.

Goodey resigned in response to his treatment and claimed constructive dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) upheld the claim, referring to meetings between Goodey and Halliday as ‘threatening and unpleasant’ and finding that HSoD’s actions were a breach of trust and confidence. Goodey was awarded over £60,000 in compensation.

This case highlights the importance of handling complaints well, and not assuming that they give you carte blanche to bully or intimidate an employee into apologising. Add in a poorly handled grievance and you further increase the risk of a constructive dismissal claim and substantial award.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Seanpaul McCahill.

29th August 2019