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The deputy head of a large comprehensive was forced to sit in a chair that made rude noises every time she moved, an employment tribunal was told.

Sue Storer, 48, claimed that her requests for a new chair were repeatedly ignored and that she was "victimised, harassed and bullied" because she was a woman. Mrs Storer told the tribunal that her two joint deputy heads, who were both men, were given new "executive" chairs without having to ask, whereas she continually had to apologise to pupils, parents and other teachers for the noises.

She resigned from her 48,000-a-year post at Bedminster Down Secondary School in Bristol claiming more than 1 million, based on lost earnings and loss of pension, against Bristol City Council for constructive dismissal and sex discrimination.


At first glance this claim - 1 million for a "farting chair" - appears ridiculous. However read the story again and other glaring issues become apparent. For example:
  • Did Mrs Storer put her grievance in writing? If so, were statutory procedures followed when dealing with it? If not, any employment tribunal award may be automatically increased.
  • Did her boss regularly appraise the performance of Mrs Storer? In which case, why weren't the issues of extra work and her management style addressed?
  • Should her boss have pursued statutory disciplinary procedures in relation to Mrs Storer's management of other members of staff?
  • Is there an equal opportunities policy in place, and is it followed?
  • Was a risk assessment on Mrs Storer's working area performed at the start of her employment as this may have highlighted issues with the chair before her very first "fart".
If these questions have raised alarm bells in your head; if you're wondering exactly what the statutory procedures are for dealing with grievance and disciplinary issues; if performing a risk assessment when a new member of staff joins your business wouldn't have occurred to you; or if you have no idea what an equal opportunities policy should say, let alone have one; then you need help from HR2all today!


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