Cancer-stricken teacher wins damages for sacking

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The Independent Online

An A-level psychology teacher, who was sacked by her school because she had cancer, has been awarded damages of more than £9,000.

An industrial tribunal awarded Deborah Sander £7,954 for injury to her feelings and £1,096 for unfair dismissal and discrimination on the ground of disability.

Mrs Sander, 48, said of her dismissal from Kings of Wessex Community School in Cheddar, Somerset: "I have been devastated by the school. It has affected my recovery."

Mrs Sander, who has two young daughters, was appointed by the school as a part-time teacher in June 1998, but two days after she was offered the job she found out she had breast cancer. She contacted officials at the school, but they said they still wanted to employ her.

She told the school that she would probably need surgery and began teaching. In December, she had surgery, followed by radiotherapy, butwhen she contacted the school in May, she learnt that her contract might not be renewed. Mrs Sander said: "I was shattered. I knew the job was still available. I had been led to believe my position was a permanent one. Now I felt the school was using a temporary contract as an excuse to dismiss me because I had cancer."

Her offer to return to work in June, when she was pronounced fit, was turned down and the school said the contract would not be renewed.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It is very disappointing to find a school ... behaving in this cold and heartless manner."

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said it had not be directly involved in the case and would be "discussing with the school the circumstances that led up to the appearance of this case at the industrial tribunal".