Teaching assistant sacked for swearing and posting rude picture on Facebook wins £16k for unfair dismissal
A primary school teaching assistant has won #16,000 after she was unfairly sacked for swearing and posting a picture of herself drinking from a PENIS STRAW on Facebook.
Paula Williams, 45, was dismissed after a member of staff overheard her saying ‘f**k’ to another teacher in the playground.
She was also accused of using the phrase ‘sexy beast’ to a child and taking a book entitled ‘I shot my daddy’ on a swimming trip.
The divorced mum-of-two was also disciplined after a picture appeared on Facebook showing her drinking from a joke ‘penis straw’ at a Christmas party.
Miss Williams, who had worked at Bridgtown Primary School in Cannock, Staffs., for 20 years – including nine as a volunteer – was sacked on May 3 last year.
She appealed the decision and took the school to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.
On Friday the tribunal in Birmingham ruled in her favour and ordered the school to pay her £16,437.79 in compensation.
Speaking afterwards, Miss Williams, of Hednesford, Staffs., claimed she had been the victim of a “personal” hate campaign.
She said: “I am glad it is all over now, it is not about the money I received, it never was about the money, it was the fact I didn’t say those things.
“I am glad a line has now been drawn under the whole thing, it affected my health and made me life very hard considering I had no income.
“I do think there was personal aspect to it all, but I don’t know why.
“The headteacher at the school has been there for around four years now, the previous one was there for 27 years, I obviously knew that one a lot better.
“I just got the feeling that, in my opinion, I wasn’t liked by the new headteacher.
“I just wanted the governors to be more proactive and take responsibility for what was
“I was supposed to have said the word f**k to a teacher in the playground during conversation.
“I don’t know if it was him who made the complaint but I haven’t spoken to him about it.
“The only apparent witness to me apparently swearing was another teacher, I don’t know who, who said that none of the children heard me swear, probably because I didn’t.
“I am just happy it is all over, so is my partner, he has had to work extra-long hours in order to keep us going and to bring the money in.”
The disciplinary board which dismissed Miss Williams also accused her of posting ‘inappropriate’ pictures on Facebook.
She added: “There were three pictures in question.
“The first two were me dressed as a St Trinian’s schoolgirl for a private 40th birthday party and the third one I was tagged in.
“The third one was me at a staff Christmas party drinking from a ‘penis straw’ which was given to me by another member of staff as a Secret Santa. It is ridiculous.”
Bridgtown School headteacher Joanna Raybould told the tribunal Miss Williams was dismissed for swearing and posting the pictures on Facebook.
In a statement to the tribunal Mrs Raybould said Miss Williams’ behaviour had affected “my health and confidence” and had impacted on “the whole atmosphere at the school.”
Tribunal chairman David Ansti said the school failed to give Miss Williams adequate guidelines on what language she could use at work and failed to verify the statement of alleged witness to the swearing.
He also said the Facebook photo’s which were taking at a Christmas fancy dress party, were not put online by Miss Williams.
County Councillor Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning and skills said: “We are disappointed with the outcome but, nevertheless, accept the tribunal’s decision.
“We expect the highest standard of conduct by staff in our schools.
“We are awaiting more information on the outcome of the proceedings before we can comment further.”