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Johnson v Coopers Lane Primary School - Burden of proof in race discrimination case [2009] EAT

EAT rules in a race discrimination case that, "because of the considerable volume of [non-racially related] material that gave explanation for" an employer's actions, the burden of proof did not shift to the employer.

Mrs Johnson was employed in 1995 as a teacher in Coopers Lane Primary School Hearing Impaired Unit. The EAT judgments says that "three teachers out of 16 or 17, including [Mrs Johnson] and the Deputy Head, Ms Lewis, are black and of the remaining staff 25 per cent are black Caribbean".

All went well for many years but starting in 2005 difficulties arose in Mrs Johnson's working relationship.  These seem to have been precipitated by her refusal to work for another school in the borough, Rushey Green School, for three out of five days of the week because of staff shortages in that school's communication unit.  By mid-2006 a marked deterioration in Ms Johnson's attitude towards other work colleagues and the lack of communication began to have a detrimental impact on her work. As a consequence the teaching of children in the hearing impaired unit was being adversely affected.  The lead teacher of the deaf, a Ms Morgan, genuinely believed that there had to be a medical explanation for alterations in Mrs Johnson's behaviour and conduct.

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