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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Compensation for cancer teacher
Lorna Hurrell
Lorna Hurrell had worked at the school for four years
A teacher unfairly dismissed from her job at an independent school after suffering cancer has been awarded 17,400 in compensation.

Lorna Hurrell, from Sittingbourne in Kent, had twice battled cancer and was preparing to return to work on a "phased" basis after her second spell of illness.

But she was told she had to return full-time or accept a severance package and was dismissed by Gad's Hill School in Rochester, Kent, last August.

An employment tribunal found the school had acted unfairly and had discriminated against her on grounds of a disability.

Severance package

Mrs Hurrell has 20 years of teaching experience and had worked at the school's kindergarten department for four years.

The tribunal heard the mother-of-two was first diagnosed with cancer in early 2000 and returned to work after treatment.

But when it was found the cancer had spread she had more time off work for treatment, which this time was successful.

In April 2002 doctors said she was fit to return to work on a gradual phased basis.

But the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the school insisted she either return full-time or accept a severance package, a choice which soon changed to accepting severance or being dismissed.

Low self-esteem

The teacher was dismissed on 28 August 2002.

With the NUT's help Mrs Hurrell took her case to an employment tribunal in Ashford, which ruled in March there had been no justification for the dismissal.

It ruled the action had been taken on the basis she might become ill again in the future despite the medical prognosis being encouraging.

As the tribunal reconvened on Tuesday to decide on damages, Mrs Hurrell said the loss of her job made her feel de-motivated and damaged her self-esteem.

She said she had tried extensively but unsuccessfully to find a job since being cleared to return to work full-time last September.

The head teacher of Gad's Hill School said after the hearing he felt the amount awarded to Mrs Hurrell vindicated the school's actions, because she and the NUT had claimed for 100,000 in damages.


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