Worker claims unfair dismissal

PUBLISHED: 12:16 16 February 2006 | UPDATED: 14:35 12 May 2010

A WOMAN claims she was fired from her childcare job for voicing concerns about safety. Samantha Loxley alleged that mouse droppings were found in the kitchen at the nursery where she worked, radiators were uncovered, no fire drill had taken place for 18

A WOMAN claims she was fired from her childcare job for voicing concerns about safety. Samantha Loxley alleged that mouse droppings were found in the kitchen at the nursery where she worked, radiators were uncovered, no fire drill had taken place for 18 months, and the garden was overgrown with thistles and nettles. She was dismissed last August, and told an employment tribunal that she believed it was directly linked to the issues she had raised. But owner Christine Raniere, who dismissed Miss Loxley for gross misconduct, said the real reason had been a complete breakdown of trust as well as falsification of records after she was twice late for work but signed in using an earlier time. Mrs Raniere, who runs the Highfield Day Nursery in Station Road, Braughing, told the hearing at Bury St Edmunds that the claims levelled against her business had been groundless. She told tribunal chairman Kevin Palmer: "My faith and confidence has been completely knocked by these allegations" Claims of unfair dismissal, detriment for making a public interest disclosure, and dismissal linked to raising health and safety issues, are all denied by Mrs Raniere. Miss Loxley said that during the last two weeks of her employment at the nursery, where she was training to become deputy manager, that the way she was treated changed for the worse. She said that in contrast to other staff she was subjected to harassment by Mrs Raniere, who also changed her duties without consultation, which meant she had little contact with children. Mrs Raniere also talked down to her, claimed Miss Loxley. The health and safety issues had been raised in May last year, claimed Miss Loxley, and she had continued to raise them for the remainder of her time at the nursery. But Mrs Raniere told the tribunal that while some of the issues complained about had been raised by other staff, and had been dealt with months earlier, other alleged problems did not exist. Miss Loxley said: "I believe the real reason Mrs Raniere dismissed me was because I had raised a number of health and safety issues, rather than for any other reason". It was said the decision to sack Miss Loxley was taken following two incidents in which Mrs Raniere's husband arrived at the nursery after 7.15am, the time when she should have been opening up, to find no one there. After a meeting at which Miss Loxley continued to insist that she had been only a couple of minutes late on one day, and not at all on the other, the decision was taken to dismiss her for gross misconduct. Sarah Ford, a parent who has two young daughters at the nursery, said she had always been impressed by the high standards maintained at Highfield Day Nursery, and found Mrs Raniere approachable and ready to listen to and act upon any concerns. The three-member tribunal panel adjourned to consider the evidence, and judgment will be announced at a later date.

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