The Facts

Mrs Quick was Head Teacher of the Manaccan Primary School (“the School”). She was employed by the local authority but her employment was managed by the Board of Governors.

Mrs Quick was a capable Head Teacher and the School received favourable OFSTED reports under her leadership. However, from 2007 Mrs Quick had frequent and lengthy absences for depression related illnesses and the School’s OFSTED reports steadily worsened. Relations between Mrs Quick and the Board of Governors deteriorated.

In 2008, Mrs Quick was provided with copies of internal emails after making a Data Subject Access Request. These emails contained discussions about Mrs Quick’s retirement, Mrs Quick’s age (59) and her “little grandchildren”.

In 2011, the School initiated a capability procedure against Mrs Quick as a result of her multiple absences. Concurrently, it began a disciplinary procedure because of the way in which she had dealt with an issue involving a sleepover of children at the home of a teacher. Mrs Quick was dismissed for serious misconduct under the disciplinary procedure.

Mrs Quick brought claims of direct age discrimination and harassment in relation to the emails received as a result of the Data Subject Access Request (“the 2008 allegations”) and a comment made during the disciplinary process that she should “acknowledge current philosophies and approaches to education” (“the 2011 allegation”).

The decision

The Tribunal dismissed all of the Mrs Quick’s age discrimination claims.

In respect of the 2008 allegations, the Tribunal found that Mrs Quick had not suffered any less favourable treatment. The retirement discussions were simply succession planning which it was sensible for the School to discuss and record. Comments about Mrs Quick’s early retirement were not less favourable treatment as this could not be imposed upon her and, in any event, it was something which Mrs Quick herself had stated she might have been interested in pursuing.

In respect of the 2011 allegation (Mrs Quick argued this was part of a continuing course of conduct which began with the 2008 allegations), the Tribunal found the Mrs Quick had again suffered no less favourable treatment. The Tribunal found that the comments would similarly have been made to a younger teacher in the same position and it was neither direct age discrimination nor an act of harassment.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Tribunal had concluded that there was no less favourable treatment, this conclusion in relation to the 2011 allegation meant that the 2008 allegations were well out of time and the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to hear them.

Mrs Quick also brought a claim of unfair dismissal. This was similarly dismissed.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Mrs Miron Quick v (1) Cornwall Council and (2) the Governing Body of Manaccan Primary School, Truro Employment Tribunal on 2 October 2012, case number 1701914/2011