A primary school receptionist from Devon is taking legal action against her employers after they disciplined her for asking friends to pray about the school’s treatment of her daughter.
Archive: a BBC news report (Feb 09)
Lawyers representing Jennie Cain have lodged papers with Exeter employment tribunal claiming that she has suffered religious discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
The claim is brought against the governing body of Landscore Primary School and the school’s head teacher Mr Gary Read. A claim is also brought against Devon County Council for aiding the discrimination.
Mrs Cain’s daughter Jasmine was attending the school. In January this year, then aged five, she was reprimanded by her class teacher for talking about her Christian faith to another child.
The school has said the five-year-old had frightened another child by talking about hell.
It has since come to light that the conversation between the children was never witnessed by any adult and took place around October time the previous year.
On hearing that her daughter had been reprimanded for expressing her faith, Mrs Cain sent a private email to church friends and family asking them to pray about the incident.
The email was sent from Mrs Cain’s home computer, outside work time, using her personal email account.
But the email ended up in the hands of head teacher Gary Read who launched an investigation against Mrs Cain for professional misconduct.
A panel of school governors decided to discipline Mrs Cain by issuing her a final written warning. This was reduced to a written warning on appeal.
However, the legal papers lodged with the Employment Tribunal claim that the decision to discipline Mrs Cain is part of ongoing hostility to her Christian faith by her employers.
The legal papers also claim that the governors sitting on the appeal panel had wanted to remove the warning from Mrs Cain’s record completely but were blocked from doing so by staff from Devon County Council’s Human Resources Department.
It is further claimed that school’s disciplinary procedure was not properly followed.
Mrs Cain was told to stay away from work for four months. The legal papers claim that, upon her return to work, Mrs Cain has continued to suffer religious discrimination and harassment. She also suffered victimisation on account of her taking legal action.
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “We support Jennie’s decision to take legal action.
“Her case is important because it highlights a wider problem. I am sad to say that a number of Christians, particularly those who work in the public sector, have been disciplined for expressing their faith.
“If Jennie was from a different religious background I believe her employers would have handled her situation differently.”