A TEACHER from Sheffield has received more than £70,000 in compensation - the maximum possible sum - after a tribunal found she had been unfairly dismissed from her job.
Tracey Smith, aged 43, was sacked from Aldine House in Dore, a Sheffield Council-run secure unit for children with behavioural problems, where she had worked for two years.
Ms Smith, who had 12 years’ experience and had taught previously in mainstream schools, was dismissed in 2011 after being suspended on full pay for nine months.
Her employers cited a string of allegations, including handing out an inappropriate sanction for a student’s misbehaviour, not getting on with colleagues, and pruning a tree against health and safety rules.
At an initial hearing Ms Smith won her case and was awarded over £18,000 in compensation.
But now, at a second employment tribunal, the first verdict was not only upheld but she was awarded a further £52,400.
Sheffield Council said it is considered an appeal.
Ms Smith, from Crookes, said some of the claims against her were ‘ridiculous’.
She said: “The case has destroyed my career and I am pleased to have won. I believe the problems arose because I didn’t get on with my line manager. I was accused of five allegations.
“One, which was ridiculous, was that I pruned a bush without performing a risk assessment.”
Ms Smith said she was suspended in August 2010 and dismissed in May 2011.
She said: “In the meantime, I was on full pay for nine months doing nothing, which is something I was horrified about because I have friends who run companies and were having to make redundancies. It was not a good use of taxpayers’ money.”
Just months prior to her suspension Tracey had reported to management that the ‘bullying behaviour’ of her line manager was placing herself and the young people in the unit at risk.
After the hearing she said: “I am so pleased with the result. To prove my innocence and show I have been unfairly treated was my goal, and thanks to Scott Sim, my solicitor, and John Stevenson, my trade union official, I now feel vindicated.”
The tribunal heard the dismissal had resulted in a huge impact on Tracey, who is still out of work after being placed on the ‘dismissed persons register’, hindering her chances of gaining new employment.
Her name had only recently been removed from the register after her fight to clear her name.
A spokesman for Sheffield Council said: “We note the result of the tribunal and we are looking into appealing the decision. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further than this at this time.”
Mr Sim of Howells Solicitors said: “We are very happy with the result. We are pleased justice has been achieved for Tracey and she can now move forward.”