16 March 2018
This week (in Reilly v Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council), the Supreme Court, has found that a head teacher's failure to disclose her relationship with a man who had been convicted of making indecent images of children justified her dismissal.
The Claimant had a close relationship with the man, was aware of his arrest (and the reasons for this) and continued to have a relationship with him after his conviction. She sought advice from various people about whether she was under a duty to report this (including governors of other schools, a police officer and the Criminal Records Bureau) and came to the conclusion that it was not necessary. On discovery of this relationship, the school dismissed the Claimant for gross misconduct on the basis that her failure to disclose this was a serious breach of her duties to assist the school in safeguarding its pupils.
The Employment Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s unfair dismissal claim. It held that although the obligation to disclose was not expressly in the Claimant’s contract, it was obvious that failing to disclose this was misconduct. Ms Reilly lost her appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court found:
This case is a reminder to employees that concealing information such as this may well be more of an issue than the underlying facts that were being concealed. Had the employee in this case approached her school’s governors, as oppose to everyone else, it is likely she would have retained her role.