A teacher has been awarded over £7,000 in damages after he moved 300 miles to take a new job – but was sacked just five days after taking up the post.
Robert Burke relocated from Oldham to work at a primary school in Aberdeen but was dismissed after his first week, the Manchester Evening News reported .
An employment tribunal ruled there had been ‘no evidence whatsoever’ which showed any wrongdoing on Mr. Burke’s part.
Council officials in Aberdeenshire made the decision to take him on maternity cover.
They based their decision on a reference they received over the phone from Mr Burke’s previous employers at a school in Italy.
However within days of taking up the post he was let go.
Judge Andrew Kemp awarded the teacher £7,272 in damages for the council’s breach of contract and said in his ruling that the way he had been dismissed was ‘at the least ambiguous’ and ‘at worst, misleading.’
The tribunal heard that in September 2017, Mr Burke, from Oldham, had been offered the job at Auchenblae Primary, plus a relocation package of up to £8,000.
After passing all the relevant checks, he took up the fixed-term maternity-cover post on October 2, 2017, and was expected to continue until July 6, 2018.
However, the tribunal heard that his contract was terminated after a week, following a phone call with his previous employer at Westminster International School in Pisa.
The council’s HR adviser, Louise Fife, said it was ‘normal practice’ to approach previous employers to find out what level of pay they had been on.
The conversation prompted ‘serious concern’ and the decision was taken to immediately dismiss Mr Burke.
A contract was then sent out to Mr Burke three weeks later, which stated his fixed-term contract was only for a week – failing to mention he had been taken on as maternity cover.
The council’s solicitor, Robin Taylor, told the tribunal the contract had probably been ‘generated automatically’ and insisted it was not a direct attempt to falsify the document.
But in his ruling, the judge said the termination letter sent to Mr Burke also gave him ‘considerable concern’, and added: “It contradicts the reference to maternity leave. It was factually inaccurate in material respects.”
Since the tribunal, Mr Burke has been battling bowel cancer.
He says the stress had been ‘unbelievable’ and that he was sure it had added to his ill-health.
“I have never received any kind of apology from the council – they just get away with ruining people’s lives,” he said.
A spokesman from Aberdeenshire Council said: “We note the decision of the tribunal.”