A teaching assistant who was fired after objecting to a lesson plan that involved showing children footage of the Twin Towers attack has won an unfair dismissal case.
Suriyah Bi was sacked after only two weeks at Heartlands Academy in Birmingham, in 2015, after noting concerns about a year seven class with special needs being shown footage of people jumping from the Twin Towers.
She said that when a warning message appeared on the screen, children asked if they should be watching it, but were told to be quiet by the teacher. Bi raised the issue the following day, on 23 September 2015, and was dismissed an hour later.
In March this year, Suriyah was successful in a claim of unfair dismissal due to whistleblowing, though the judge rejected a claim that she was discriminated against on the grounds of her religion.
Speaking to People Management this week about the case, employment partner Barry Stanton said it highlights the care employers need to take in similar scenarios.
“The case of Miss Bi highlights the importance of considering the background to any decisions that employers intend to make,” Barry said.
“The findings that she was dismissed as a result of having blown the whistle and that she was subjected to acts of victimisation might appear surprising but, given the apparent background, each decision falls clearly within the relevant statutory provisions,” he said. “Employers need to exercise care when making decisions about continued employment when an employee has raised concerns in relation to safeguarding, health and safety or complying with legal obligations."
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