Muslim teaching assistant wins unfair dismissal case over 9/11 footage

The Guardian reports that a Muslim teaching assistant who was sacked for objecting to 11-year-olds being shown graphic footage of the 9/11 attacks has won an unfair dismissal case against her former school.

Suriyah Bi, 25, was dismissed from the Heartlands Academy in Birmingham in 2015 after raising concerns about a year seven class with special needs being played a YouTube video that showed people jumping to their deaths from the upper floors of the World Trade Center.

The group had been studying Simon Armitage’s poem Out of the Blue, which was written for the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Bi claims that the teacher taking the lesson had to log in to her personal YouTube account to override a warning that the video was unsuitable for children and under-18s.

She said that when a warning message appeared on the screen, children asked if they should be watching it, but were told to be quiet by the teacher. Bi raised the issue the following day, on 23 September 2015, and was dismissed just over an hour later, less than a fortnight after she started the job.

A safeguarding checklist written three days after her dismissal, seen by the Guardian, mentions that Bi was head girl at Saltley School, which was implicated in the Trojan Horse affair five years after she left, and that she had completed a dissertation looking at the effect of the scandal on pupils. It said she raised concerns about the footage because it offended her as a Muslim.

The school offered Bi £11,000 in compensation for loss of earnings a year after she was first dismissed. But she rejected the offer and instead took the case to an employment tribunal. In March, Bi was successful in a claim of unfair dismissal due to whistleblowing, though the judge rejected a claim that she was discriminated against on the grounds of her religion.

In the latest hearing this month, a judge ruled that Bi had also been victimised under the 2010 Equality Act. Bi has applied to have her discrimination claim reconsidered, insisting that she would not have been fired if she hadn’t been a Muslim, but said she is open to reaching a settlement with the school. A remedy hearing is expected to take place next year.

Read the full article Muslim teaching assistant wins unfair dismissal case over 9/11 footage

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