The Employment Relations Authority has held a teacher’s dismissal to be unjustified and awarded $5,000 compensation.

The teacher had taken the marking schedule for an exam into the classroom to discuss student results.  When she was called out of the room she left the marking schedule on her desk and students photographed the schedule on their phones.

After the exam was re-sat the teacher noticed similarities to the marking schedule in the answers and alerted her employer.

The employer investigated and disciplined the students, who alleged the teacher had read out the answers to the class.

The teacher denied reading out the answers, and also denied leaving the paper in the room when she stepped out.  However, during the disciplinary investigation of her conduct she eventually admitted doing so when it became obvious the students had photographed the answers.

The employer dismissed the teacher for her dishonesty (denying leaving the answer schedule in the classroom).

The ERA found the dismissal to be unjustified because the dishonesty issue was not raised with the teacher.  The disciplinary allegations related to her leaving the paper in the room, not dishonestly denying it.

The ERA found that she could have been dismissed for leaving the paper in the room, but she was not dismissed for that reason, rather for dishonestly denying it.