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court reference no: LTA 96/5787/B ...
court reference no: LTA 96/5787/B

A traumatised Nottinghamshire CC educational welfare officer who was unfairly dismissed after complaining that she could not feel secure in her office has been assured of a substantial compensation pay-out by the appeal court.

Lord Justice Otton told the court in London that there was 'no substance' in the county council's case that Jeannette Perez's dismissal had been fair, or that she had consented to it.

The judge said Mrs Perez's problems began in March 1991 when she was attacked and robbed while on duty. Her unidentified attacker stole her identity card which was later used to gain access to a pupil's home.

Then based at Nottingham's Henry Mellish school, the judge said the incident 'inevitably led to difficulties', and she was transferred to the Player and Sandfield School.

That school later closed down, and she was moved again to the Margaret Glenn Bott School where she was allocated an office to which she developed an 'intense dislike'.

'She felt threatened and thoroughly insecure in that working environment,' said the appeal judge.

Mrs Perez's mother died in February 1993, and she was 'obliged to take substantial periods away from work'.

The judge said she was diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Shock Disorder. Her employment was terminated on health grounds in June 1994.

After a lengthy hearing last year, a Nottingham industrial tribunal ruled that Mrs Perez had been 'constructively dismissed' unfairly. That decision was later upheld by the employment appeal tribunal.

The council's barrister, Alison Hampton, argued yesterday that Mrs Perez's dismissal had been 'fair and consensual'.

But Lord Justice Otton ruled: 'Both tribunals were entitled to take the view that they did, namely that this was a case of constructive dismissal, and that dismissal was unfair.

'There was abundant evidence before the industrial tribunal enabling them to come to the conclusion that her dismissal was unfair'.

The judge said the the council's own educational health physician had inspected Mrs Perez's office and had declared it 'unsuitable for this particular employee'.

The employment appeals tribunal addressed the issue. Their conclusion was wholly sustainable and cannot be impugned', the judge concluded.

Mrs Perez is now certain of a substantial compensation pay-out for unfair dismissal. The amount will be assessed at a further tribunal hearing unless agreed in the meantime.

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