Private school sacked art teacher just days after she applied for maternity leave

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An £20,000-a-year private girls’ school has been ordered to pay £34,000 to a teacher they sacked just days after she told them she was pregnant.

Art teacher Rebecca Raven lost her job at Howell’s School in Denbigh, North Wales in July last year, after applying for maternity leave. Her leave should have started at the end of November 2011, but the school told her she would be dismissed at the end of the summer term.

The school then said she could apply for the post of part-time art teacher, starting in September 2011, but they did not appoint her. Mrs Raven appealed and put in a grievance, but the school failed to respond.

Backed by the ATL, she won her unfair dismissal case in May. Yesterday an employment tribunal told the school to pay her £33,923.27 compensation.

Rebecca Raven said: “It’s such a relief to have won and to be able to put this case behind me. It was terrible shock losing a job I loved. I had really enjoyed working at Howell’s School. I hope the school’s trustees have come to their senses and won’t treat anyone else the way they treated me.”

In May the judge at Shrewsbury employment tribunal ruled that Howell’s School was guilty of unfair dismissal under Section 99 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, when they dismissed Rebecca Raven in July 2011 after she became pregnant. The tribunal also said the school had discriminated against her under the Equality Act 2010.

ATL’s senior lawyer Jayne Philips said: “We finally have justice for Mrs Raven after fighting her corner for over a year. The compensation should go some way towards covering her costs for a year out of work. Schools cannot be allowed to get away with breaking the law. ATL can, and will, fight for justice whenever such cases occur.”

Dr Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru, said: “We are delighted to have won this compensation for Mrs Raven after all the months of worry and uncertainty the school put her through. Howell’s School treated her appallingly and showed a complete disregard for the law. Sacking a pregnant teacher also set a dismal example to the pupils who are, hopefully, being educated to be young, independent women with fulfilling careers and lives.”


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