A black teacher has been awarded over £460,000 in a race discrimination case after she was stripped of her senior role and replaced by a less experienced and less qualified white colleague.
Catherine Burton-York was forced to relinquish her role as Head of Year at Douay Martyrs Catholic Secondary School in Ickenham, London, where she had worked at for more than a decade.
A tribunal heard that when the experienced teacher refused, head teacher Anthony Cornish put her and the school’s four other head of years through a competitive selection process to secure their jobs.
However, Mrs Burton-York, who is black Afro-Caribbean, was the only one who failed the process and a ‘less experienced and less qualified’ white staff member was later appointed in the role.
The school later carried out ‘calculated’ tactics to ruin its relationship with Mrs Burton-York and she resigned.
Now, she has won a staggering £462,973 after successfully suing Douay Martyrs for race discrimination harassment as well as unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
The tribunal in Watford heard Mrs Burton-York, a geography teacher, joined Douay Martyrs in 2004 and was regarded as ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’ by her fellow teachers.
In May 2016 Mr Cornish asked Mrs Burton-York – then Head of Year 11 – if she would ‘stand down’ from her duties the following academic year when she was due to move to be Head of Year Seven.
Mrs Burton-York turned Mr Cornish down. However, in late 2016 a ‘restructure’ of the school was announced and the five year heads were told they needed to re-apply for their roles.
In March 2017 Mrs Burton-York was told she had failed and would not be appointed as a head of year even though two posts remained available.
A tribunal report said: ‘She was not given any written feedback about what had led to her being unsuccessful.
Two ‘less experienced and less qualified’ white staff members were appointed as Heads of Year.
The tribunal also heard that when Mrs Burton-York asked colleagues for references for job applications at schools elsewhere, co-workers gave her glowing references while Mr Cornish provided critical ones.
Following a meeting in November 2018, Mrs Burton-York went off work sick and never returned, eventually resigning around 12 months later when the school stopped corresponding with her.
She said: ‘Regrettably, I am of the view I have been treated less favourably to my comparators because of my protected characteristic and I have been discriminated through a series of adverse continuing acts (intentionally or not) throughout my employment at The Douay Martyrs Catholic Secondary School.
Employment tribunal Judge Patrick Quill ruled that her claims against Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust, which runs the school, succeeded as the school could not prove it didn’t discriminate against her because of her race.