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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50180
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I was dismissed in December for SOSR third party pressure.

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I was dismissed in December for SOSR third party pressure. I was a teacher and a parent had made numerous complaints about me, all investigated formally and found to be unsubstantiated. The final complaint resulted in a suspension and hearing where I was reinstated to my position with a final written warning. When the parent was informed I had been reinstated, she made threats to go to the press and expose the school and the local authority, citing that they had made the wrong decision and I should have been dismissed. She threatened to take out an injunction against the school (no-one was able to find out on what grounds) and also said she would remove her child from the school (not the child involved in the complaints-he had moved to secondary school) and cited that other parents would take their children out if I was to return. No other parent came forward to complain about my reinstatement and the school could not name these parents.
The school have stated (in writing) that I had committed no misconduct since I was reinstated and that I was not being investigated. No investigation took place and the panel who dismissed me stated that they took the parent at their word that the threats she had made were viable and that my position at the school was untenable. I suggested mediation and/or redeployment. The parent would not mediate (only one attempt was made) and my employer said that they could not redeploy me, although they are a very large local authority and have a scheme for alternative employment for those unfortunate enough to be in my position. I was not considered for this scheme. I appealed the decision to dismiss. My outcome letter states that the panel had sympathy for me and that the school could have handled things better however, when faced by this intransigent parent they had to dismiss me.

I had been employed by the school for 13 years and have submitted an ET1 that has been accepted. The parent involved is not a third party to my contract and every policy relating to this matter states that a parent who complains cannot appeal against a disciplinary decision or attempt to make changes to that decision. It is also stated in the policies that disciplinary matters are confidential and must not be disclosed by the school to anyone-the school did disclose the outcome of my disciplinary in great detail to this parent and it resulted in the parent making threats against the school, resulting in my dismissal.

Is this truly third party pressure that could result in a fair dismissal?

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. So to confirm - the final dismissal was in Dec 2013? When did you submit the ET1?


It was submitted in March-within the 3 month timescale

Ben Jones :

Good morning, SOSR is one of the potentially fair reasons for dismissal and that could be as a result of third party pressure. However, the employer still has a duty to act fairly and follow a fair procedure, which includes being able to show that the pressure in question was something they had to consider and that dismissal was the only option available.


There is no definition of who a third party would have to be for their requests to be valid and case law has suggested that it would be relevant to show how important the third party's continued business is to the employer and how serious or definite the threat by the third party is. Of course the third party would have to have some connection with the employer and their business, although they do not actually have to be party to your contract, which in most cases would not be possible anyway as that would just be between you and your employer.


Other case law has discussed the potential injustice that may be suffered by the employer if they are dismissed and that it is a factor the employer must consider before deciding on how to proceed. If injustice would result, they must also consider what steps could be taken to alleviate that injustice.


Another factor would be what attempts the employer made to try and avoid having to dismiss. Even if you would have had to be removed from your current position due to this pressure, the employer should have tried to find you alternative employment in order to try and avoid having to dismiss. A Local Authority would have obviously been in a position to consider this and if it did not happen it could suggest the procedure that was followed was unfair.


Is it important for my case that my ex employer specifically stated that no investigation into the claims of this parent had taken place and that they 'took her word' that she would carry out her threats? Also, is it important that the legal team of the local authority deemed her threat to take out an injunction against the school was unlikely? No one even asked who her solicitor was. I was dismissed within 2 weeks of the only meeting I ever had with the school to try and seek a way forward. An email was forwarded to me within 30mins of the end of that meeting to say that I could not be redeployed. The one attempt at mediation (suggested by me) was 'pointless and insulting to the parent' (I have this in writing). At the time of my dismissal, this parent had said she would remove her one child, at a cost to the school of £3000 pa. There are 54 families in the school, of which she is only one. There was no evidence that anyone else would remove their child apart from this parent saying they would. Children are removed from this school for many reasons, and most are replaced from a waiting list (this is an oversubscribed school). Is it important to my case to make the point that this was only one parent out of 54 and her claims were not substantiated by any evidence at all?

Ben Jones :

An employer would not generally be required to investigate the truth behind the their party's allegations and they can be taken at face value and what really matters is the pressure by the third party and what their effect on the business is. Similarly, the third party would not need to provide any evidence to back up their claims. But as mentioned the school should have considered what alternatives there were to dismissal and also this would amount to injustice to you. In the end there is no strict right or wrong answer to this - as most employment issues that are subject to interpretation it would depend on the actual circumstances and also what a judge considers was fair - it does mean that one judge on one day could come to a different decision on another day and now that you have made the claim all you can do is proceed with it and argue your case, using the above as parts of your defence

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