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The dangers of suspension of employment

In Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth, the Claimant was a teacher, who was suspended from work because of the force she used in respect of three incidents involving two children. She was told that the reason for her suspension was to “allow the investigation to be conducted fairly”. She was not asked for her response to the allegations before the suspension took place, nor was there any evidence that consideration had been given to any alternatives to suspension. The Claimant resigned that day and brought a claim for damages for breach of contract in the High Court.

The High Court held:

  • Suspension was not a neutral act, at least in the context of a qualified professional in a vocation, such as a teacher;
  • Suspension was adopted as a knee-jerk reaction as the default position;
  • The stated reason for suspension was to “allow the investigation to be conducted fairly” rather than for the protection of children;
  • In this case, the employee’s suspension amounted to a repudiatory breach of contract.

This case highlights the importance of not automatically suspending an employee simply because serious allegations have been made against them, particularly when the employee in question is a qualified professional.

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