Woman wins sex discrimination and unequal pay claim against school

A woman who said she earned less than male colleagues at a boarding school and was verbally abused by pupils has won her claim of sex discrimination.


Hannah Miller worked as a science technician at Tonbridge School in Kent. She claimed that a man doing the same job as her was paid more yet she was “shouldering 90% of the workload”.


She also said she was regularly subjected to sexist abuse by pupils and the school did little to protect her. She said: “On walking into a classroom taught by one of the physics masters, I overheard the comment that ‘women shouldn’t be in science, they should stay at home in the kitchen’.”


At first she thought the comment was from a member of staff but it was actually from a pupil. However, she said the teacher simply tried to laugh it off and did not seem disappointed at the behaviour of the pupils. She said: “I felt absolutely humiliated and isolated.”


The pupil was asked to apologise but she said there were several other incidents: “Pupils would trip me up, slam doors in my face and behave in an abusive and aggressive manner toward me.


“I have never witnessed this sort of behaviour toward any male member of staff.”


Ms Miller said the school did not acknowledge her grievances so she resigned and brought claims of unequal pay, sex discrimination and constructive dismissal.


The Employment Tribunal ruled in her favour.


Tonbridge School issued a statement saying: “The allegations of ‘abusive or humiliating’ behaviour made by Miss Miller were unsubstantiated upon further investigation but we accept that we should have done more at the time to ensure the science technician pay scale was fair and transparent and for this we are sorry.”


Please contact our employment team on employment@berrysmith.com if you would like more information about the issues raised or any aspect of employment law. As solicitors, we act for employers and employees in employment disputes, providing employment tribunal representation and legal advice across Wales and the UK from our Cardiff and Bridgend offices.