Teacher Awarded €75,000 Damages Over Harassment Claims

A female secondary school teacher, dismissed for complaining about alleged sexual harassment by male pupils, has been awarded €75,000 in damages.

The Equality Tribunal awarded damages to the English and Irish teacher against the school, which has not been named

The teacher had signed a contract with the school in July 2007 and was subject to a year's probation.

The tribunal heard how in that time she made allegations against eight pupils in six classes – however, almost none of the allegations could be substantiated.

The teacher had reported that on numerous occasions she heard pupils call her a "slut" and other derogatory names.

She told the tribunal she was unhappy with the way school had dealt with many of her complaints.

The school's principal told the tribunal that many of the allegations could not be investigated properly because the teacher had reported them too late.

The principal claimed that the disciplinary code was not followed and that this had exposed the school to reputational damage and possible legal action by parents.

In a written judgment published yesterday, tribunal chairman Niall McCutcheon found that the teacher was not subjected to sexual harassment by the school.

He also rejected claims of discrimination against her on the basis that she was excessively supervised by the principal, that her car was damaged or that she was a woman.

However, he found that after her probation period had concluded, she was dismissed for making the complaints of sexual harassment, and not for her ability to teach.

Mr McCutcheon said that anti-victimisation laws protected those who make a complaint, regardless of whether it was found to be substantiated.

He awarded her €75,000 -- the equivalent of 18 months' salary.


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