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Education Law Case Study: Sex discrimination claim against university

Education Law Case Study: Sex discrimination claim against university

Who did we act for?

We acted for Amy, living in the north west, who was subjected to sex discrimination and harassment on her male dominated course.

What was the case about?

Amy embarked on a postgraduate course associated with a male dominated profession, having excelled in her undergraduate course.

As part of the course, the students were required to develop a concept and complete a project, demonstrating proof of the concept.  At the required time, Amy presented her ideas to her peers and staff.  It was clear to Amy from viewing the presentations of her peers that her concept was entirely unique.

To Amy’s disgust, later in the course, she learned that a male peer had adapted her original work, such that it had become similar to Amy’s work.  When Amy raised concerns about plagiarism with the course tutors, she found the tutors did not take her concerns seriously, preferring to favour her male peer.  Amy escalated her concerns through the university’s formal complaints procedure which led to her being subjected to verbal abuse by the course tutors.

The university did not instigate their plagiarism procedures until several months later, by which time Amy had completed the course. The male peer had benefitted from fulfilment of his project, which was based on Amy’s work.  The male peer was also able to embark upon a career in the local area within the subject industry.

Meanwhile, the whole experience, the university’s lack of support and the verbal abuse she was subjected to by her tutors, caused a significant deterioration in Amy’s mental health. This declined to such an extent that she felt unable to work, and certainly not within proximity of the university, where the male peer had gained employment, and favour within the industry.  As a consequence of this, Amy felt she had to get away and thus was forced to move.

What did we do?

We advised Amy on claims of sex discrimination, including victimisation and harassment by the tutors.

We also supported Amy in navigating the University’s internal complaints procedure, compelling the University to invoke its plagiarism procedures in relation to the male peer.

We also advised Amy about a potential claim for compensation for the harm caused to her mental wellbeing.

We supported Amy with legal proceedings, for all of her claims. We obtained a medical report which set out in detail the health consequences of her experience.  This included her inability to work whilst she undertook therapy to deal with the university experience.

What was the outcome?

After the court case had started, we were able to negotiate significant compensation for Amy as well as repayment of her legal costs.  Most importantly, we were able to support Amy through a very difficult period in her life, achieving an outcome which allowed her to be able to move on with her life and career in her new home town.