House-husband claims sex discrimination

30th June 2000 at 01:00
A TEACHER who had a five-year career break as a house-husband has accused a secondary head-teacher of sex discrimination.

Design and technology teacher Tony Furniss, 49, took the head and governors of Caldew school in Dalston, Cumbria, to an employment tribunal after being refused a job there last summer.

He told the Carlisle hearing he felt angered and humiliated by a post interview chat with headteacher Andrew Abernethy, whom he accused of saying: "I've got a negative prejudice against someone who has been a house-husband for five years."

Mr Abernethy denied making the comment, or being prejudiced against former house-husbands returning to teaching.

Mr Furniss, from Raughton Head, has taught at two Carlisle schools, and looked after his daughter during his time away from teaching. The job he applied for was given to a newly ualified teacher.

He told the tribunal that he was "absolutely livid" when Mr Abernethy described his teaching experience as a "negative" factor during the post-interview debriefing.

"Mr Abernethy said that if he, or the deputy head, tried to get a teaching post today, they would not get one. Hearing them make a joke of it as they told me I hadn't got the job was humiliating."

Mr Abernethy said his impression of Mr Furniss was that of a teacher who was "competent at teaching but not inspiring".

He apologised for any upset caused by his comment about not being able to get the job but said he had no prejudice against househusbands, adding: "It was not a comment I would make. I am quite happy to appoint teachers who have had a career break for any reason."

The tribunal will give its verdict in the next few weeks.

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