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March 22, 2006

Whoopie chair

I've heard of whoopie cushions, but until I happened to check Dave Barry's blog tonight, I had never heard of what I would call a whoopie chair.

BRISTOL, England (AP) -- A British teacher who says a noisy chair made classroom life a misery is suing her former employer for unfair dismissal.

Sue Storer, 48, told an employment tribunal Tuesday she was subjected to sexist and bullying behavior while working as deputy head teacher at Bedminster Down Secondary School in Bristol, southwest England.

Storer said the school failed to replace her chair, which made a "farting" noise whenever anyone sat on it, although other staff received new chairs.

She said the chair was a source of embarrassment, especially at parent-teacher evenings.
The teacher claims to have suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her treatment.

Does the story seem wrong? Does it just smell bad to you? It's got to be true because it's from CNN.

UPDATE: It's also in the London Times (via Overlawyered), and the paper liberally quotes the teacher, who seems to want to use the F-word as much as possible:
Mrs Storer, who had been an art teacher for 26 years, says that she was subjected to four years of overwork, intimidation and stress after joining the 1,000-pupil school in April 2001. She said that her "farting chair" was a regular joke.

She said: "It was very embarrassing to sit on. I asked for a chair that didn't give me a dead leg or make these very embarrassing farting sounds. It was a regular joke that my chair would make these farting sounds and I regularly had to apologise that it wasn’t me, it was my chair."

She said that when a consignment of new chairs arrived in May 2002 she was not allocated one. She said: "I had specially requested a chair under health and safety regulations and I didn't get one."
The teacher also expounds on her mental condition:
Mrs Storer, a divorced mother of two, said that Mr Frank had shown her a list of complaints about her management from other members of staff, but refused to identify who had said what. As a result, she said, she suffered a nervous breakdown and developed severe clinical depression. She said: "Basically I wanted to commit suicide and I thought about crashing my car."
I don't understand this. She should have just blamed those sounds on the dog. And this response captures the matter well:
Asked why she did not sort out the problem, she told the tribunal: "It's a health and safety issue for an employer to ensure you have a comfortable chair."
I guess that's how she made it to Overlawyered.