Mr J Walker v The Governors of Arnhem Wharf Primary School and The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets: 3202034/2018

Judgment Date09 September 2020
Published date17 September 2020
CourtEmployment Tribunal
Subject MatterUnfair Dismissal
Case Number: 3202034/2018
Claimant: Mr James Walker
Respondents: (1) The Governors of Arnhem Wharf Primary School
(2) The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of
Tower Hamlets
Heard at: East London Hearing Centre
On: 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13 & 14 February (hearing days) and 23 (part),
24 & 26 March 2020 (in chambers)
Before: Employment Judge John Crosfill
Members: Mr G Tomey
Mrs B K Saund
Claimant: Lydia Banerjee of Counsel, instructed by Workwise Legal.
Respondent: Hilary Winstone of Counsel, instructed by the 2nd Respondent
The judgment of the Employment Tribunal is that:-
1. The Claimant’s claim for unfair dismissal made under part X of the
Employment Rights Act 1996 is well-founded.
2. The Claimant’s claims that the Respondent failed to make
reasonable adjustments under sections 20, 21 & 39 of the Equality
Act 2010 are dismissed.
3. The Claimant’s claims that the Respondent unlawfully
discriminated against him under sections 15 & 39 of the Equality
Act 2010 are dismissed.
Case Number: 3202034/2018
4. The Claimant’s claim for unlawful deduction from his wages of the
‘TLR’ supplement brought under Part II of the Employment Rights
Act 1996 is well founded.
1. Arnhem Wharf Primary School (‘the School’) is located in London Docklands
and serves a diverse community. It is a ‘community school’ maintained by the
Second Respondent (‘the Local Authority’). The Claimant, who was formerly a Head
Teacher at another school, joined the School initially on a temporary basis but then
accepted a role as a teacher of Design and Technology (‘DT’).
2. On 15 September 2017 one of the school handymen, Gary Corney, fell from a
ladder whilst trying to place a cover over the smoke sensor in the DT room. He had
been given that cover by a teaching assistant Pam Benjamin. When Pam Benjamin
was asked who gave her the cover she identified the Claimant. A disciplinary
investigation was instigated against the Claimant, Pam Benjamin and Gary Corney.
3. The Claimant was certified as being unfit for work, initially because of stress,
but he was later diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The traumatic
event that triggered that condition was his treatment by his previous employer both
as an employee and during employment tribunal proceedings. It was accepted that
from 6 December 2017 the Claimant was disabled for the purposes of the Equality
Act 2010.
4. The Claimant complains about the actions of the Respondent in conducting
the disciplinary process and, he says, in failing to properly deal with grievances that
he raised. He says that these acts and omissions contributed to a serious breach of
contract and, in some instances, were acts of disability discrimination being either
failures to make reasonable adjustments or unfavourable treatment because of
something arising in consequence of the Claimant’s disability.
5. A disciplinary meeting was convened on 5 July 2018. The Claimant attended
that meeting but part way through he resigned. The finding of the disciplinary panel
was that the Claimant’s conduct merited a warning. The relationship terminated at
that point. The Claimant says that he was entitled to treat himself as being dismissed
for the purposes of Section 95(1)(c) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. He brings a
claim of unfair dismissal.
6. The Claimant has brought a claim alleging an unlawful deduction from wages.
This relates to the payment of a teaching allowance known as a ‘TLR’. The Claimant
was paid this allowance for several years but the allowance was terminated on 15
November 2017. The Respondent’s position was that the Claimant was not entitled
to this supplement as a DT teacher and that it had been paid in error. The Claimant
sought to appeal against this but was told initially that he had no right to do so. The
Claimant says that this was, or contributed to, a serious breach of contract.
Case Number: 3202034/2018
Procedural history
7. The matter had been listed for a 5-day final hearing to start on 4 September
2019. One of the members had a conflict of interest because he knew one of the
Respondent’s witnesses. The parties were unwilling to permit the case be heard by a
panel of two and raised concerns about the length of the hearing. The matter was
postponed. A direction was given that the Claimant set out further particulars of ‘the
treatment that individually or cumulatively is said to be a breach of the implied term
of mutual trust and confidence’. When the Claimant did so the list of issues required
substantial revision as the Claimant relied on about 50 separate matters plus each
matter he said was also an act of discrimination.
8. The parties had already exchanged witness statements. As such the
Respondents witness statements were not necessarily directed towards the case as
it was then understood.
9. Unfortunately, it was necessary for the Tribunal to reduce the length of the
hearing through a lack of judicial resources. The hearing was initially reduced to 7
The Hearing
10. The parties attended on the first day of the hearing. In our discussions it
transpired that the parties had agreed a list of issues but subject to the Respondent
seeking permission to ask questions supplementing the Respondent’s witness
statements where the Respondent had not anticipated the Claimant’s case. The
Claimant did not object and this seemed a pragmatic and sensible proposal.
11. We indicated that the remaining part of the first day would be used for reading
the witness statements and documents referred to within them. We discussed the
timetable. We indicated that we expected the parties to attempt to conclude the case
within the days then allocated. W e said that we would keep the matter under review
and that if necessary chambers days could be added.
12. We then heard evidence over the following 5 days. The witnesses we heard
from were:
12.1. The Claimant, who started his evidence shortly after 10am and who
concluded his evidence the following morning at about 10:15 on Day 3.
12.2. The Claimant’s wife, Becca Walker who gave evidence from 10:16 to
about 10:43; and
12.3. Pam Benjamin, the classroom assistant who had worked with the
Claimant and who was involved in attempting to place a cover on the
smoke alarm sensor she gave evidence from 10:45 to 11:20; then
12.4. Rukia Begum, one of the two Assistant Head Teacher’s at the School
and the person allocated to keep in touch with the Claimant during his
sickness absence who gave evidence from shortly after 11:20 to

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