Office worker sues posh boarding school for £19,000

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By Christine Lavelle

AN OFFICE worker at a top private school broke down in tears yesterday as she claimed the headmaster forced her into a demotion after she went on maternity leave.

Fiona Gordon, 41, works in the admissions department at £8,700 per-term boarding academy Loretto School in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

But the mum-of-one said that she was targeted by head teacher Peter Hogan after announcing her pregnancy in August 2008.

Mrs Gordon said that, upon breaking the news to her boss, Mr Hogan told her his wife was made redundant when she became pregnant.

And – she claimed – her department was restructured while she took maternity leave and she returned to be told she had to re-apply for a more junior post with a salary £6,000 lower than she had been on.

The claims were made at an employment tribunal in Edinburgh yesterday as Mrs Gordon sues the education establishment for £19,000 over claims of sex discrimination.

She insists that the school are biased against women having children and claims she miscarried a child as a result of the stress and wants compensation for loss of earnings, emotional upset and legal fees.

Yesterday Mrs Gordon told the tribunal: “I was nervous about telling Mr Hogan about the pregnancy because he had only just started working at the school and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“The first thing he said when I told him was: ‘When my wife became pregnant she was made redundant, it is a real pain when women go on maternity leave’.

“He never once congratulated me, and I couldn’t believe he had mentioned the word redundant when I had just told him my happy news.”

When she tried to return to her job in October last year, Mrs Gordon said she was informed the job as she knew it did not exist anymore, and that the whole department was facing possible redundancies.

She said: “All of the positions had been given new titles, although it appeared to me the job descriptions were exactly the same.

“I was told I could apply for the position of registrar, which I see as a huge step down on the professional scale – it is a job I was doing 19 years ago at another school.

“The salary was also almost £6,000 less than what I had been earning before, and taking it would mean I was being stripped of my managerial responsibilities.

“All I wanted was to come back to my old job, with the same terms and conditions – I believe it is my right.”

Mrs Gordon also told the panel that she believed Mr Hogan did not like female employees with children.

She said: “The girl who took over during my maternity leave has been offered one of the new jobs at a higher salary rate than advertised.

“She is the only one in the department without any children and I think she is getting preferential treatment because of it.”

Mrs Gordon, who blames the stress of the ongoing battle with Loretto for a miscarriage she later suffered with another child.

She said: “I don’t believe any of this would have happened if I had not been pregnant and exercising my right to maternity leave.”

The tribunal continues next week.

7 COMMENTS

  1. How on earth can Loretto Govenors allow Peter Hogan to waste money in a vain attempt to win this case. What has happened to the school lawyer? Loretto must be wasting at least £500 per hour + expenses – parents will love this.
    Just one thought why are the Loretto Govenors not informing parents about this action.

  2. And why has this case not been reported in the national press?

    Is it because it will set a precedent for other discontented teachers, parents and pupils in other public schools to voice their concerns about their own headmaster?

  3. Not surprised he took the course of action he did on this case or that the school experienced a very high turnover of teachers. Perhaps this has in some way influenced his exit from the school My dealings with Mr Hogan as a parent were difficult

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