Fired Shrewsbury School tuck shop worker wins tribunal
A former tuck shop worker at Shrewsbury School has won her claim of unfair dismissal.
Gillian Stokes took the top public school to an employment tribunal after being sacked.
She claimed she was unfairly dismissed and that a female member of staff sexually assaulted her.
Ms Stokes, 44, began working at the school in 1996 and claimed she was unfairly dismissed in May 2013.
The hearing, in Birmingham, was told that Ms Stokes had worked at the school for 17 years before she was sacked following a "breakdown of trust and confidence".
The tribunal also heard that, several days after she was fired, Ms Stokes sent an email to all 750 pupils at the school, in which she claimed that she had been sexually assaulted by a female member of staff.
Ms Stokes was also accused of making threatening telephone calls and sending abusive text messages to former colleagues who she felt "had betrayed her".
She sued the school for £24,000 in loss of wages and "hurt feelings", claiming she was sexually assaulted.
She also claimed that, on a separate occasion, she was manhandled by a male member of staff.
Ms Stokes, from Shrewsbury told the tribunal, which ended last week, that she was sacked because of her activities with the UCAT trade union.
But the tribunal found that while the school did unfairly dismiss Ms Stokes, they did not breach the Trade Union and Labour relations Act in relation to her.
The tribunal heard that Ms Stokes admitted sending the email to staff and pupils claiming she had been sexually assaulted, which she said she "regretted", adding that she had done it while suffering "great emotional distress".
However, she denied sending threatening messages to former colleagues, including one that read: "Careful when you go home. Things are bad out there. We wouldn't want you to have an accident."
The tribunal also heard that numerous meetings between Ms Stokes and representatives of the school had ended in stalemate - including a without-prejudice meeting in which both parties agreed in principle that the claimant would receive £30,000.
The sticking point was that the school wished to make termination of employment a condition of settlement and the Ms Stokes wanted to remain in employment. The offer was rejected.
A reserved judgement on the case was made on June 13.
A statement from Shrewsbury School said: "Shrewsbury School is aware that this case turned on a small technical detail.
"We will review our procedures and make any changes where they are required.
"We are reassured that the outcome of the tribunal has reflected the fact that Ms Stokes was treated with nothing but the utmost professional respect by the School and former colleagues."
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