Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Grosset v City of York Council ET/1801465/14 the Employment Tribunal held that the dismissal of a school teacher who suffers from cystic fibrosis for a serious error of judgment (showing an 18-rated film to a class of 15/16-year-olds) was discriminatory.

Mr Grosset was employed as head of the English department at Joseph Rowntree School (“the School”) . He suffers from cystic fibrosis, which did not normally affect his ability to undertake his role. However, Mr Grosset was required to undertake a strict regime of physical exercise each day in order to remedy his condition, and had to keep stress as low as possible (as an increase in stress would potentially cause his condition to deteriorate).

From the start of his employment at the School the then-head teacher, Mrs Wright, implemented adjustments to his duties in order to minimise the stress caused to him by his position – this included giving him sufficient notice of meetings and consulting with him over any major changes. In September 2013 a new head teacher, Mr Crane, commenced employment at the School. Mr Crane was not informed of the fact that Mr Grosset suffered from cystic fibrosis and was not informed of the measures that had previously been put in place for Mr Grosset.

Mr Crane put in place new systems for all departments, with the aim of improving outcomes for pupils, and increased the workload for the heads of departments. All of the departments were also subjected to extra scrutiny, with ‘Focus Fortnights’ introduced to enable the outcomes of each department to be scrutinised on a fortnightly basis. The new systems and extra scrutiny caused a substantial amount of extra work for the heads of departments.

Mr Grosset started to feel under strain as a result of the extra workload. On 24 September 2013 he wrote a letter to his union representative setting out a number of complaints about the changes Mr Crane had introduced, and started to make a log of incidents as they occurred. He then wrote a letter to Mr Crane on 10 October 2013 setting out, among other things, that the increased workload was causing him to suffer from stress, and that he did not believe that Mr Crane was sufficiently aware of the nature or effect of his disability. He also asked that there be a reduction in his teaching load and a reduction or prioritization of tasks and deadlines.

In October 2013 Mr Grosset was informed by his consultant that his lung function had fallen to below 50%, whereas it would normally be in the 60% range.

On 8 November 2013 Mr Grosset showed the 18-rated horror film ‘Halloween’ to a class of 15/16 year-olds. Later in November 2013 Mr Grosset felt that he could no longer continue to work due to the stress that his increased workload was causing him, and was signed off work sick. He remained absent from work due to illness until his dismissal.

On 29 November 2013, whilst covering for Mr Grosset in his absence, Mr Crane discovered that Mr Grosset had allow his students to watch ‘Halloween’. Mr Crane was concerned by this and called Mr Grosset to inform him that he was being suspended. He also asked that a colleague, Mr Haigh, investigate the incident. Mr Haigh conducted an investigation and concluded that Mr Grosset had shown the film to a class of vulnerable students without first obtaining parental consent, or seeking the approval of the head teacher. Mr Grosset was subsequently dismissed by way of letter dated 1 May 2014 for gross misconduct, after a disciplinary hearing was held. Mr Grosset appealed the decision to dismiss him but was not successful. He subsequently made a variety of claims in the Employment Tribunal, including claims for unfair dismissal, direct disability discrimination, discrimination arising from disability, indirect discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and failure to make reasonable adjustments.

The Employment Tribunal dismissed Mr Grosset’s claims for direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, unfair dismissal, and victimisation. It did, however, uphold his claims for discrimination arising from disability, failure to make reasonable adjustments, and breach of contract.

With regards to the discrimination arising from disability claim, the Employment Tribunal upheld two complaints: firstly, that the increase in his workload discriminated against him and, secondly, that his dismissal was discriminatory.

In respect of the first finding, the Tribunal held that there had been a significant increase in workload for Mr Grosset and that this was unfavourable treatment. The Tribunal also held that this unfavourable treatment arose because of something arising in consequence of Mr Grosset’s cystic fibrosis and that the School had failed to sufficiently consider alternatives that would have reduced Mr Grosset’s workload (and therefore his stress levels).

In respect of the second finding, the Tribunal held that Mr Grosset’s cystic fibrosis had been exacerbated by the stress that he had been suffering, and that his deteriorating condition had caused him to make an error of judgment. The Tribunal accepted that Mr Grosset’s error of judgment was a “side effect of the stress caused, in significant part, by his cystic fibrosis” – the effect was circular: the more stress that Mr Grosset suffered the worse his condition became, and the worse his condition became the more he suffered from stress. The Tribunal also dismissed an argument by the School that Mr Grosset’s dismissal was justified by the need to safeguard children: the Tribunal accepted that the need to safeguard children was a legitimate policy but that the decision to dismiss Mr Grosset was not proportionate – the Tribunal considered that, given Mr Grosset’s unblemished disciplinary and performance record, a final written warning would have been appropriate in the circumstances.

With regards to the claim for failure to make reasonable adjustments, the Tribunal upheld this claim on the basis that two adjustments (sufficient notice of meetings and consultation over major changes) agreed with the previous head teacher had not been notified to Mr Crane when he started his job.

By a majority decision the Tribunal decided that Mr Grosset’s dismissal was fair: the School had undertaken a reasonable investigation, had based its decision to dismiss on the outcome of that investigation, had made a reasonable decision based on the facts before it, and had a genuine belief in Mr Grosset’s guilt.

Chris Hadrill, a partner in the Employment Department at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case reinforces that employers must ensure that there is continuity in place for disabled employees if there is a change of management, and must also ensure that the effects of a disabled employee’s condition are suitably taken into account in any disciplinary or capability process.”

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

164 Reviews

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 weeks ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Good and quick service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Ricky D

Very satisfying to be assured of such attention and professionalism.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Excellent service - thankyou

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Efficient, timely and friendly support and advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Ahmed S

They are always on hand when you need them and provide support even when its not necessary.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Nemen S

Wonderful experience.Chris was very responsive and provided an excellent service. A real professional who I would recommend to anyone

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Their guidance was clear and they provided me with all the information I required. Friendly yet professional

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris @ Redmans assisted me with an employment issue. Firstly, he was very proactive in coming back to my initial enquiry and then helped to clearly lay out the options that I had in relation to my position. He then assisted with the preparation of my case, which led to a very satisfactory outcome. I would highly recommend the quality of service & professionalism offered by Redmans Solicitors.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Great service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris was very effective and decisive in dealing with my matter. I felt guided, and the pressure to make decisions was taken off my shoulders; he knew what needed to be done and I was happy to follow his advice. The result of the legal dispute was a great success for me. He is also kind and personable. The only thing that I would say it could be improved, is the accuracy of cost estimation at the beginning: not many activites, that could not have been forseen had to take place, but costs went up more than double in the end. Overall very good and trustworthy. I would definately recommend and use Redmans services again.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Liz P

An excellent professional service was provided by Chris Hadrill and Mel Chin. Efficient and trustworthy - would highly recommend this company.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Redmans Solicitors were great. They were able to advice me quickly and efficiently! I would recommend them, as a good solicitors to use.

Posted 1 month ago