Springhouse Solicitors

Should teacher have revealed previous allegation of sexual assault by pupil?

Mr Amadi, the Claimant in this case, worked on a part-time basis as a teacher for The Basildon Academies. In his previous role, he had been suspended following accusations that he had sexually assaulted a pupil. The police contacted the Academies and informed them of this, and he was dismissed for gross misconduct. Was this fair?

Background

Terminations for gross misconduct can only be fair when there has been a fundamental breach of contracts on the part of the employee.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal therefore needed to investigate what contractual term Mr Amardi had breached when he failed to disclose the allegation. They could not find anything in the contract of employment itself other than reference to national standards. Although the national standards apparently place an obligation on teaching staff to disclose any allegations of impropriety relating to children, the Academies had not brought the terms of this to the tribunal hearing. It was impossible, therefore, to decide that there was a written obligation to make the disclosure, and the EAT therefore needed to consider whether there was an implied duty.

This did not cause the EAT great difficulty to decide, as they simply referred to previous case law which established that the implied duty of good faith owed by employees to their employers did not extend to obligation to disclose misconduct. The EAT therefore agreed that Mr Amadi should not have been dismissed for gross misconduct for this reason alone.

However, Mr Amadi was also dismissed on the ground that he was working for a third party college, and there was no doubt that this was prohibited by his contract of employment.

Implications

Employers in the professions such as teaching need to review their contracts of employment to make sure that they cover any relevant allegations of misconduct outside a particular employment.

They also need to make sure they turn up to any Employment Tribunal hearings with all their evidence!