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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MsBehaving, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. MsBehaving

    MsBehaving New commenter

    Dear Colleagues
    I'll try to lump it all into one message...
    For fear of identification, lets just say im
    Black british with a disability. My disability manifested in front of my head one day. A common condition but I am now medically suspended due to their upset. The letter from occ health to doctor stated I had no time off in years there. Doctor confused by issue but has received no answer. So I am at home. I cant go out because students and parents ask questions. Teacher friends have been criticised for socialising with me.... I don't want their life complicated. My hod is my kit person and no word, letter, email or text in 5 weeks. No answers to calls either. I have been replaced til end of year. Classes are no longer mine. I have been dropped from summer trips. I only expected to be off for a month.
    Now I have given up. I am isolated. Ironically I am becoming ill with unhealthy thoughts. I am in short broken. Oh union useless - yes I have tried. why mention colour - I was told not to be sensitive when called the n-word and a student had placed dog faeces in my drawer - I was told not to cause a **** storm. Apparently im a great teacher... I do not get stressed and manage heavy workloads with good humour. What am I doing wrong....?
  2. MsBehaving

    MsBehaving New commenter

    I should say I am replaced until july!
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I can only say that you need to go back to your Union, at a higher level (maybe regional or indeed Head Office). If they really don't listen, then possibly go to Citizen's Advice?

    Other than that, I'd only say if your GP believes you are fit to go out, then you should. If you meet anyone from school don't stop to chat, just wish them a Merry Christmas. Or maybe go to stay with family/friends in another town.
    hhhh and JosieWhitehead like this.
  4. MsBehaving

    MsBehaving New commenter

    Thank you...the union regional office have suggested I keep trying or pass me back ro national who pass me back to regional.
    I went into work fit and healthy I was parcelled out of the building on a medical suspension.
    I smile sweetly in town and move on but I feel stressed by it now. I live in a town with grown up children and family and dogs. Im not sure how long is long enough anymore.
    Good to hear from you :)
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I'm very sad to hear of your truly terrible experiences and I do wish you felt you could get out and about. It would be good for you, I'm sure.

    It's a shocking account and I can only wish you well.

    You have done nothing wrong.
  6. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter


    OK I've tagged this to attract attention of someone who can offer you some information on this from a basis of expertise.

    Basically, if you have something that falls within the definition of disability then you have legal protection and if that protection is breached (as may very well be the case here) then you have a case for discrimination.

    Does your union know you are disabled? I would basically tell your union to stop messing and get their finger out and start considering this as a discrimination case. Phone national and if they try to pass you back to regional say no and that you need help now. If necessary say you will make an official complaint.(politely of course)
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Keep working with your union. If you genuinely feel they aren't helping, then check house insurance and the like to see if you are covered for legal advice from an employment lawyer. You can't usually use both, but a swap to an employment lawyer might help depending on your situation.

    If you are registered as disabled, you should have access to advice about discrimination on the grounds of your disability. However 'no time off in years there' isn't quite the case if your profile is to be believed and you only started teaching in 2014.

    If your disability is such that it has significantly upset your head, then they are possibly right to be concerned it would also upset pupils. The head has to ensure you are fit to teach and that pupils are safe. Not saying that these things aren't true, but the head isn't necessarily wrong to suspend you pending further investigation. Five weeks feels like forever, but it is a very short time for such cases.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It's atrocious that no attempt has been made at reasonable accommodation and that OH hasn't been involved.

    Let's say you have a tic which is well managed by medication. Let's say you may suddenly shout out at maximum volume (not even an oath) for no apparent reason. Perhaps you wave your hands about in a seemingly violent manner. Well, students can learn about these conditions. No effort seems to have been made.

    I have no idea what it is. I'm sure there are far better examples.

    Yes. Union. Legal advice. Go for it.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    OH has been involved and written to the OP's doctor. Though apparently their letter has confused the doctor, not sure how or why though, maybe the OP could elaborate a little more.
    That is just pure speculation. Possibly you are correct and possibly not.

    The head saw some kind of incident and was upset enough to suspend the member of staff and refer to OH. The referral must have been thought to be extremely urgent, given the OP has been to see them and the report sent to the GP all withing five weeks. You'd be very lucky to have even had a letter giving you an appointment within five weeks in my LA!
    That is all that is open to the OP and they must be entirely honest and open.
  10. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I've been in school classrooms where children have been severely disabled and the other children have been taught that you show kindness and consideration towards others. This should also apply to you and I'm sure that if your children and their parents knew what was happening, they would show their outrage.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Don't be silly!
    Can you imagine how rubbish these forums would be if people did any such thing?
    (And I include myself in that!)
    Urbanfaerie likes this.
  13. NewToTeachingOldToMaths

    NewToTeachingOldToMaths Lead commenter

    Well, I find this TOTALLY unacceptable. The messages it sends are all totally wrong.
    Geoff Thomas and palmtree100 like this.
  14. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    let them, who cares?

    again, let them complicate their lives, I would happily for a friend, and have done, and really, it isn't a complication worth a flick of a ponytail, to be honest.

    As to the rest of your post, it sounds awful, but I'm just responding to the bit where you have talked about becoming isolated.


    it is unnecessary, and will only make you feel worse.

    Don't give your head that power over you, it is totally inappropriate, inhumane and ridiculous for him/her to make you feel like you can't go out or see friends. o one has that right
  15. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Thanks for the tag @irs1054 - though 'expertise' falls a long way short! I'm just a jobbing litigator, bottom of the food chain. ;)

    Karon Monaghan QC & Sean Jones QC - now there's 'expertise' in race and disability discrimination! If Sean Jones ever tires of law, he'd have an easy second career in stand-up. :)
    (TUC Discrimination Conference next year Friday 20th January 2017. One of the best training days of the year. If you're a union rep, get on it! https://www.tuc.org.uk/events/tuc-and-equal-opportunities-review-discrimination-law-conference-2017 )

    Mmmmm...I think I am going to sit on my hands for a bit. If this is genuine, there's plenty of sensible advice about nagging unions already. My rickety rackety bridge early-warning alert is twitching and I am otherwise occupied in a deluge of pregnancy discrimination claims.
  16. MsBehaving

    MsBehaving New commenter

    GLsghost I am soery to cause a twitch. Back to those feelings of isolation. I remain saddened and shocked that epilepsy is likened to mental illness. I do not seek legal representation just support of colleagues.
    I could find another job tomorrow (offered 4 so far), but I want to be able to hold my head up and fight. Epilepsy is common. It was not me but a white colleague that conplained about rhe racisr behaviour - it was me that was hauled aside. Career ruiner were the words after ****storm! There is really nothing else, honest and open is all I have
  17. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I'm afraid I don't believe a word you have written. I see enough real discrimination cases to be convinced that your story does not ring true.
  18. NewToTeachingOldToMaths

    NewToTeachingOldToMaths Lead commenter

    I suspected it might be epilepsy; and I don't get this at all. As you say, it is a common condition and schools must therefore have had to address the issues in the past.

    It seems to me that there are essentially two positions that can be taken. EITHER the view can be taken that there must be a responsible person in charge of a class at all times, and since a teacher who has an epileptic seizure is unable to be "in charge" of the class for the duration of the seizure, anybody with epilepsy is medically unfit to teach. OR a more enlightened view can be taken that this is a condition which modern medicine is largely able to control, and it should be judged on a case by case basis according to severity and frequency of attacks, likelihood of being able to raise the alarm in advance of an attack and so forth. I believe the more enlightened approach to be more appropriate, and the fact that you were passed fit to teach in the first place (presumably after disclosing and discussing your epilepsy with your medical examiner) suggests that the medical examiner was of the view that your epilepsy was NOT an issue which ought to prevent you from teaching. What medical qualifications have the leadership of your school got, which entitles them to substitute their own views for the considered opinion of the medical examiner who passed you fit to teach?

    Disability discrimination legislation entitles you to have "reasonable adjustments" made to enable you to carry out your employment notwithstanding your disability. If your attacks are infrequent (and it sounds as if they are), and if you get a warning aura before they strike (which you do not say - but my (limited) understanding of epilepsy is that they are not uncommon) then it seems to me that the issue can easily addressed by a "reasonable adjustment" which would completely address the concerns of the unenlightened view. If you were always to teach in the same classroom, and if it were to be equipped with a "panic button" (similar to those they have in banks, only linked to the school office rather than the police station) then this should cover off even the unenlightened concerns. The moment you fee the aura of an impending attack you hit the "panic button"; the school office on seeing the alarm know that your class will shortly be without anyone in charge and immediately send whoever is available - another teacher, or a member of the leadership team - to take charge of the class, and ideally a first aider as well to attend to you. It may also be necessary to consider whether it makes sense to relieve you of playground duties, and only ever to regard you as a supernumary on school trips rather than counting you towards any minimum supervision requirement. But these are minor issues indeed.

    It seems to me that to refuse to implement an arrangement such as this is to refuse you the "reasonable adjustment" which is your entitlement under disability discrimination legislation. To suspend you for 5 months while trying to figure out what to do about the situation certainly seems excessive. How long does it take to figure out a "reasonable adjustment" such as this? It took me about 5 seconds!

    I think you are right to go with "honest and open" but to want to fight this and hold your head up high. I would suggest going back to your doctor to discuss what would be a "reasonable adjustment" under disability discrimination legislation to allow you to continue teaching notwithstanding your epilepsy, and ask him to put his opinion in a letter addressed to your HT. Then send the letter to your HT with a request for a meeting to discuss implementing the "reasonable adjustments" being suggested, with a view to your returning to the classroom as soon as possible. If he declines, ask for a written statement of reasons why he is unable to accept the medical opinion of your doctor. Say that you are more than willing to unergo an OH referral; but be absolutely clear that unless your BT's post-nominals include MD, you do not believe that he is competent to overrule your doctor's clear medical opinion.
  19. MsBehaving

    MsBehaving New commenter

    Thank you the last comment. It was supportive and allowed me to consider qhat steps I might of missed. Glsghost I got that you were calling me a liar first time.
    No I am not a liar, I am discovering from doctors, QCs, heads and other teachers, my prpblem is not unique . Awful but not unique. I have asked various friends and family members in those professions as I want things to get better.
    Access to Work have offered to pay for adjustments which would benefit many in the school not just those with Disabilities. I discussed my epilepsy when first employed. I think seeing a seizure upset the head. It can be distressing but its not dangerous for others. Its me that will suffer injuries.
  20. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    And the second...

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