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  • Writer's pictureIWW Ireland

Teacher wins nearly 40K for constructive dismissal

With union support, a public campaign, and legal representation, a London-based TEFL teacher has secured an almost £40,000 payout from the Golders Green College and School of English.

Ms V worked for Golders Green College & School of English from 2004 until her resignation in May 2022.

Trouble began when the school introduced a contract change in which Ms V and her workmates sought union support. 

The situation quickly escalated, with the school refusing to engage in basic legal practices to which all employees are entitled. The actions of school owner David Simons became increasingly antagonistic, leaving Ms V feeling threatened and bullied. For her own mental health, she felt she had no option but to resign.

Golders Green College refused to resolve the matter through internal procedures, so the union began a two-pronged strategy of public action and legal support. 

Alongside fundraising events to raise money for Ms V’s living costs, the union began a series of ‘social media days of action’ to draw attention to the case and put pressure on the employer. Behind the scenes, Ms V was supported by union members and other sympathetic colleagues at the college.

The union arranged legal representation for Ms V allowing her to make employment tribunal claim for unfair constructive dismissal on the grounds of: 

  • unlawful changes in contract with no consultation

  • refusal to acknowledge a grievance

  • threatening behaviour both in writing and in person

  • refusal to acknowledge the claimant’s membership of a trade union

  • refusal to allow the claimant to be accompanied by her trade union representative at meetings

Ms V’s claims for unfair constructive dismissal, and unlawful deductions from wages and holiday pay were found to be “well founded” at tribunal, which awarded her almost £40,000 in compensation.

After her victory at tribunal, Ms V took a moment to thank the union as well as her solicitors for helping her to achieve justice when faced with such an unscrupulous employer:

Thank you so much for all your support at the IWW and Morrish Solicitors. I firmly believe that your expertise, determination and dedication was instrumental in obtaining the best outcome possible for myself. I am truly grateful to you for being there for me during a very stressful time and helping me fight for my employee rights.”

According to Tom Liebewitz, chair of the TEFL Workers’ Union (IWW) steering committee:

“The English language teaching industry can be notoriously difficult to hold to account. The fight isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. Ms V is an inspiration to TEFL workers across the UK for having the courage to stand up and fight back.”

With the support of Morrish Solicitors, a law firm which partners with the union, Ms V was able to prove that the actions of her former employer were unlawful and had a significant impact on her mental health.

Omar Ghaffoor, employment solicitor at Morrish Solicitors said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have received the judgment in this case of unfair constructive dismissal — which are notoriously hard to prove. The conduct of the employer was found to be ‘unacceptable and lacked any respect for the claimant as a valued employee, her state of mind and welfare’.”

The national legal officer for the IWW praised both Ms V’s legal representation and the actions taken by the union’s membership to support Ms V:

“Language schools must recognise that they’re still bound by employment legislation and basic decency when dealing with their employees. Ms V’s case shows that the combination of legal action and public campaigning can change the tide.”

Sadly, we know that Ms V’s situation is not an isolated incident. Too many TEFL bosses think they can mistreat their employees, ignoring both the law and common decency. If you have a problem at work, be like Ms V: get support and demand justice. It’s to speak to a union rep



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