In O'Brien v Bolton St Catherine's Academy, Ms O'Brien, the head of a department at a school, was attacked by a pupil. Her injuries were not serious and she returned to work after a short period.
However, Ms O'Brien felt unsafe in parts of the school and was dissatisfied with what she saw as the school's lack of action on dealing with aggressive pupils. She later went off work with stress.
After more than a year off work, the school sought clarification as to when she might be able to return to work and what adjustments it could make to facilitate her return.
However, the school had difficulty getting this information. Ms O'Brien refused to attend a meeting to discuss her prognosis because she felt the meeting might upset her. She was asked to provide the information in writing, which she did in a questionnaire.
However, Ms O'Brien replied to key questions about timescales and barriers to a return to work by referring the school back to her GP, who did not feel confident about when she might be able to return to work.
The school subsequently dismissed her after a formal medical incapacity hearing under the school's sickness absence management procedures.