Teacher receives £70,000 in compensation after tribunal rules she was unfairly sacked for pruning a tree against health and safety regulations

A teacher received more than £70,000 in compensation after a tribunal found she had been unfairly dismissed – for pruning a tree. Tracey Smith was also accused of handing out an inappropriate sanction to a misbehaving student and not getting on with colleagues at the centre for children with behavioural problems in South Yorkshire. This is from the Daily Mail…

The 43-year-old was sacked from the Sheffield Council-run secure unit after being suspended on full pay for nine months.

Losing her job at Aldine House, in the village of Dore, had a huge impact on Ms Smith, who is still out of work after being placed on the ‘dismissed persons register’, hindering her chances of gaining new employment.

Her name has only recently been removed from the register after her fight to clear her name.

She won her case and was awarded more than £18,000 in compensation, before being awarded a further £52,400 at a second employment tribunal, bring her compensation to the maximum possible.

The teacher, who had 12 years’ experience and had taught previously in mainstream schools, claims she was bullied by her line manager.

‘The case has destroyed my career and I am pleased to have won,’ said Ms Smith. ‘I believe the problems arose because I didn’t get on with my line manager.

‘I was accused of five allegations. One, which was ridiculous, was that I pruned a bush without performing a risk assessment.’

Ms Smith was suspended in August 2010 and dismissed in May 2011, after working at Aldine House for two years.

She said: ‘In the meantime, I was on full pay for nine months doing nothing, which is something I was horrified about, because I have friends who run companies and were having to make redundancies. It was not a good use of taxpayers’ money.’

Months before her suspension, Ms Smith had told her bosses that the ‘bullying behaviour’ of her line manager was putting her and the young people in the unit at risk.

After the hearing, she said: ‘I am so pleased with the result. To prove my innocence and show I have been unfairly treated was my goal, and thanks to Scott Sim, my solicitor, and John Stevenson, my trade union official, I now feel vindicated.’

Mr Sim, of Howells Solicitors, said: ‘We are very happy with the result. We are pleased justice has been achieved for Tracey and she can now move forward.’

Sheffield Council said it is considered an appeal.

A spokesman for the council said: ‘We note the result of the tribunal and we are looking into appealing the decision. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further than this at this time.

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