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Dismissal For Viewing & Distributing Porn At Work

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A few years ago my middle-aged male boss pulled me to one side and said: "Come and look at this."  He led me over to his computer and asked me to match the photographs of breasts on the left side of the screen with the faces of ten women on the right side of the screen.

Picture the scene: early twenties, it's my first office job, I've barely known my boss a week and he's asking me to match faces to breasts.  Needless-to-say, very inappropriate behaviour...

Anyway, memories of the incident reignited this week as I read an  concerning a case brought by a female teacher against her former employer, an inner city school in the London Borough of Hackney, for  and .  The school sacked the teacher for viewing and distributing porn at work.

Apparently the teacher received and opened emails containing "25 different sexually explicit images and two sexually explicit video clips."  The says one video came from a website called 'Security Cams Fuck dot.com.'  The video showed "a naked man and woman having sex in a car park in a number of different positions."  While the other video "showed a kangaroo masturbating."  The teacher also forwarded six pornographic images to a colleague. 

After the school intercepted the material, the teacher refused to apologise but guaranteed that she would not do it again.  She highlighted that the state school had no internet policy in place and argued dismissal would violate her  under the .  While the teacher accepted there was a risk children could have seen the pornography, she did not accept the material was inappropriate.  Indeed, she engaged in a dispute with the school as to the nature of pornography and what is appropriate in the 21st century for children to see - she argued viewing pornography might be an "enriching experience" from which the children would suffer no harm.  The school disagreed, however, and summarily dismissed her for gross misconduct.

Before the employment tribunal and on appeal, the school argued dismissal was a proportionate response to the teacher's acts; that it pursued a legitimate aim to protect the children at the school.

Unsurprisingly the appeal tribunal accepted the school's rationale and denied the claims for  and .

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