A deputy school principal who had secret affair with a teacher has lost his unfair dismissal.
The Education Department sacked the man when it discovered he promoted the woman without declaring his conflict of interest.
Commissioner John Murphy said he “deliberately failed” to disclose the personal relationship while taking part in a selection process “to the advantage” of the teacher.
Deputy principal kept affair secret
The pair started a sexual relationship in April 2016, after exchanging a number of sexually explicit emails and text messages and photos.
At the same time, the woman, referred to as “Ms R” in the Commission, was being considered for a promotion to head the Health and Physical Education Department at the school.
The deputy principal did not disclose the relationship, despite being on the selection committee.
Ms R made a number of phone calls to the deputy principal during the selection process, including one at 11.50pm.
The panel subsequently awarded the promotion to Ms R over two other applicants.
Ms R’s husband discovered the affair when he found text messages on her phone, and informed the Education Department.
Following an investigation, the department sacked the deputy principal.
Failing to disclose affair ‘serious misconduct’
Commissioner Murphy said the deputy principal’s failure to disclose the conflict of interest amounted to serious misconduct warranting dismissal.
“The frequency, duration and timing of their phone conversations, the content of their email exchanges and the frequency of Ms R’s visits to the applicant’s home, all speak of a close personal relationship which was sufficient to create a conflict of interest in the applicant as of 4 April 2016.
“His failure to declare that conflict of interest and remove himself from the selection process for the position of Relieving Head Teacher constituted serious misconduct which justified his dismissal.”
The dangers of workplace romances
Miles Heffernan from IR Claims says the case is a warning for anyone starting a relationship with a work colleague.
“Anytime you get involved romantically with someone that you work with, there are risks, especially if things go pear-shaped,” he said.
“The real danger comes if one person in the relationship is a supervisor or a manager of the other.
“Most companies have policies in place requiring those sorts of relationships be declared, to avoid conflicts of interest.
“In the case of the deputy principal, a workplace affair has cost him his job and also his career.”
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