Catholic school cleared of discrimination

A TEACHER who claimed she was forced to quit after being discriminated against because she was not a Roman Catholic has had her complaint rejected by an employment tribunal.

June Cundill, aged 50, complained that the real reason she failed to get a job as a biology teacher at St John's High in Dundee was because she was an Episcopalian and the other candidate was a Catholic.

Dundee City Council denied her claims and pointed out that the successful candidate was not Catholic.

The Dundee tribunal heard that Mrs Cundill had been working at St John's as a supply teacher and claimed she had been promised a vacant temporary position in the biology department.

Shortly afterwards George Haggarty, the head, decided to hold an interview. He concluded that Mrs Cundill was less than impressive and had to be encouraged in her answers, but she was appointed to preserve continuity.

At the start of the new session, another post came up but Mrs Cundill declined to be interviewed. She said she had had bad experiences with competitive interviews and did not wish to take part. A Catholic teacher was appointed.

Mr Haggarty then became aware she was having difficulty with a third-year class and a number of parents spoke of their concerns. He did not regard them as being at the serious end of the scale but rather the type of difficulty which often existed where a supply teacher was new to a class.

When Mrs Cundill's temporary contract ended she agreed to take another temporary post in behavioural support. Soon afterwards, another temporary post arose in the biology department but this would have meant taking the third-year class she had had difficulty with and other more difficult classes.

Mr Haggarty was under pressure as the school was preparing for an inspection. The behaviour support unit was an area that required attention. He therefore decided to appoint another teacher, who was not a Roman Catholic, to the biology post, and to keep Mrs Cundill in behavioural support.

As a result she left but continued to teach on a supply basis in Dundee until two months later.

Mrs Cundill said the reasons she had been given were "spurious". At no time had there been any criticism of her ability to maintain discipline or handle difficult classes.

The tribunal found a Catholic had not been appointed to the post, the issue she claimed led to her resignation. It stated: "One of the reasons the applicant was not inter-viewed for that latter post was because of her well publicised dislike of interviews."

The tribunal said Mrs Cundill continued to work for the council for a period in excess of two months after the event which she says entitled her to treat the contract as at an end. It rejected her complaint of constructive dismissal.

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