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The NASUWT has successfully secured compensation for a drama teacher who was dismissed from her job after developing life-threatening asthma.

Alison Grant-Ryder developed late-onset asthma following the refurbishment of her classroom at the Maelor School in Wrexham in 2013 and believes that this, coupled with the use of aerosols by pupils, caused or contributed to the serious deterioration of her health.

Alison suffered repeated sudden on-set asthma attacks and acute respiratory difficulties at school which on several occasions resulted in paramedics being called or her admission to hospital.

The asthma and an unrelated scheduled operation in late 2018 led to unavoidable absences from work, but by the time in 2019 that she was informed she was to be dismissed Alison’s asthma was under control and she had not had an attack for over a year or had any time off related to her asthma.

Alison felt she had done everything possible to protect her health and minimise absences from work, including a move to part-time working, and says she was devastated to be dismissed, feeling that her employer had not treated her fairly or adequately considered the improvement in her health and attendance, a point the tribunal agreed with.

“When I received my letter of dismissal I felt my world had ended and any sense of security I had enjoyed up to that point was destroyed” she says.

Alison’s dismissal had huge repercussions for not only her mental health, but her financial security as aged in her early 60’s she has struggled to secure a new teaching post.

As a result she has been forced to seek supply work which has resulted in a significant loss of earnings, exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic and periods of school closure. Her need for a working environment free from allergens which trigger her asthma also makes the peripatetic nature of supply teaching extremely difficult.

The NASUWT supported Alison to bring an employment tribunal against her former employer. The tribunal agreed that she had been unfairly dismissed and awarded her £78,000 in compensation to reflect the loss of earnings and injury to her feelings.

Alison says she is grateful for the support of the NASUWT in obtaining redress and much needed compensation.

“Without the support of my union I would not have achieved this result. Having the tribunal’s validation that I was treated unfairly has helped to provide some measure of comfort in what has been a hugely distressing time.

“I have lost my career, my colleagues and my friends. I lost my financial security. I have lost my confidence and my mental wellbeing and struggle every day to cope with what has happened to me. Achieving this result at the tribunal now allows me to start the process of rebuilding my life.”       


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