Teachers wins Employment Tribunal race discrimination claim

MoJA former maths teacher has won her claim for race discrimination against the school she previously worked for after she claimed that she was discriminated against when she was not given a promotion at the school.

Ms Perena Polius-Curran, 42, commenced employment with Basildon Academies through an agency as a maths teacher in April 2012. She expressed interest in the head of department role before commencing employment in April 2012 but was told by management at the school that it was felt that she was unsuitable for the role as she had taken a five-year break to have a child (although she was not provided with formal feedback on this point). The head of department role was later given to Will Combs, a newly-qualified teacher of white British origin, who did not go through the formal application process.

Ms Polius-Curran, who earned £40,000 per year at the school, subsequently resigned from her role in April 2013 and made an Employment Tribunal claim for direct race discrimination.

The claim came before the East London Employment Tribunal earlier this year, with the Employment Tribunal ruling in Ms Polius-Curran’s favour in her claim. Employment Judge Jones, chairing the hearing, stated: “It is our judgment that Mr Coombs was appointed without interview, without any objective assessment of his suitability for this post and without responding to an advert. Mr Coombs was effectively ‘tapped on the shoulder’ and invited to apply. This is totally different from the claimant’s situation where her agency had put her CV forward and asked that she be considered for the post.”

A ‘remedies hearing’ will be heard at a later date to consider what compensation Ms Polius-Curran is entitled to.

Ms Polius-Curran commented after the judgment: “I’m very pleased with the judgment, but sitting though the hearing it has bought it all back. I’m not sure I will ever teach again, and it’s made me think what I’m going to do with my life. It was an awful experience, and one which I’m terrified of going through again.”

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure in recruitment processes that all candidates are measured objectively, that there are no favours, and that no one employee is objectively disadvantaged by subjective or arbitrary criteria – a failure to undertake a fair and objective recruitment process may lead to lengthy and costly Employment Tribunal claims.”

The Employment Tribunal remedies claim will be held at a later date.