Tribunal finds Scottish teacher with menopause symptoms was unfairly dismissed

Scottish teacher unfairly dismissedAn employment tribunal has found that Scottish teacher whose menopause symptoms worsened during a dispute about moving to a different school was unfairly dismissed.

Allison Shearer had worked at the Clydesdale Secondary Support Base between 2015 and 2022, teaching English, maths and health and wellbeing. She was taking prescribed medication for menopause symptoms, high blood pressure, anxiety and low mood.

Head teacher Neil Govan had told staff that supervising an underage pupil while vaping was part of the duty of care owed by them to pupils. After disagreeing with this, Shearer was told she would be moved to Kear School in Blantyre, which is one of South Lanarkshire Council’s schools for pupils with additional social, emotional and behaviour needs.

Shearer told Govan that she did not want to move to a school with high levels of violence, as she feared it would increase her blood pressure and menopause symptoms, and she was replaced by a primary supply teacher after being removed from the post.

She became anxious about the planned move and went on sick leave. During this time, she was sacked after refusing an ultimatum that gave her four days of notice to agree to a permanent supply teaching role, or to move to a position at Kear School, which she felt she was unqualified for.

Shearer was awarded £61,074.55 for unfair dismissal, loss of earnings and compensation for injury to feelings.

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Employment judge M Whitcombe said: “She believed that there were high levels of violence and injuries to teaching staff at that school, that management were ineffective and authoritarian, and that there was a culture of blaming staff for being assaulted. [Shearer] had regular nightmares and disrupted sleep and found it difficult to think about anything except the move to Kear School. [Govan’s] response to an occupational health report into Shearer’s situation was dismissive, intransigent and unhelpful.”

A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Council said: “We note the findings of the tribunal, including the fact that there was no evidence to suggest that refusal to supervise a pupil vaping had any bearing on the dismissal.”