Duncan Lewis Solicitors

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A teacher who lied and claimed benefits for disability has won a case for unfair dismissal but her compensation was reduced to 100 percent

April 4th, 2012

A teacher who won her case for unfair dismissal has won her case in an employment tribunal but was told she would not receive any compensation as she had lied.

She had lied about an accident and had taken six years off sick on full pay. She had claimed that a teaching assistant who went into an epileptic fit had fallen on her and trapped her on the floor leaving her with chest, neck and spinal injuries.

An investigation conducted by the Dearne Carrfield Primary School in Bolton on Dearne, South Yorkshire had concluded that no such mishap had taken place but when she returned for work for a brief while she was struck by a bus and stopped coming to the school since 2004.

Anna Yerrakalva, who was on a full pay of about £30,000 a year was suspended in the year 2009 and sacked in January next for gross misconduct.

Her pay while off sick has been estimated at around £180,000 and the council’s legal bill was believed to have exceeded £120,000.

The total bill on the taxpayer over the case stood around £300,000. The 58 year old widow and mother of two had taken off sick since 2003 November for the alleged accident.

But still the tribunal decided that the school governors and her employer, Barnsley Council, were responsible for an act of victimization on grounds of disability and had dismissed her unfairly by not giving her an opportunity to return to work and to take the normal course of dealing with her grievances under the rules.

The case went in her favour as there was a technical default on the parts of the school and council authorities who if, had followed the regular procedure would have seen her removed fair and squarely the employment judge Stephen Shore said. He added that her compensation for unfair dismissal was being reduced to 100 per cent as she told a series of lies and that her testimonial credibility was in tatters.

The Sheffield tribunal heard Mrs Yerrakalva had been claiming disability living allowance and industrial injury benefit in 2006 and 2007 yet at the same time told her employers that she was fit to return to work.

Her astonishing list of 26 symptoms in her benefits claim forms included finding it difficult to peel vegetables, open the curtains and turn on the taps.

The Judge said she was a ‘thoroughly unreliable witness’ and the account of her accident at work ‘wholly inconsistent’.