In a case which reveals that post-dismissal conduct can sometimes have a crucial bearing on employment proceedings, a religious studies teacher who won £70,925 compensation in respect of his unfair dismissal could have his loss of pension award slashed after he was convicted of assaulting a former pupil at the school where he had worked.
The teacher, who was aged in his 60s, had lost his job after a colleague complained that he had accessed a dating website during a class. An employment tribunal found that he had been unfairly dismissed and made the award after deducting 15% for his own contributory fault.
Following his dismissal, he had been jailed for six weeks after being convicted of common assault on a 16-year-old former pupil, an offence which had post-dated his departure from the school by about a year. Despite the employer’s arguments that that fact was relevant to the issue of appropriate remedy, the employment tribunal declined to take it into account in calculating the award.
In allowing the employers’ appeal against that decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) accepted arguments that the conviction was material in that it may well have brought the school into disrepute, leading to the teacher’s fair dismissal before the age of 65 in any event and a resultant loss of some of his pension rights.
It was plainly ‘just and equitable’ to take the conviction into account in calculating the teacher’s loss of pension award and the tribunal had erred in law in refusing to do so. That issue was remitted to the tribunal for reconsideration.