Female police officer wins sex discrimination case in Employment Tribunal

by Redmans Solicitors on May 24, 2013

  • SumoMe

A female police officer has won her battle for discrimination against her police employers after an Employment Tribunal ruled in her favour.

The female police officer, known only as Miss M for legal reasons, pursued an Employment Tribunal claim against the North Yorkshire police force after she was subjected to a barrage of humiliating and offensive remarks relating to her gender. She sought employment law advice from specialist employment solicitors and submitted a claim for direct sex discrimination, a claim for gender-related harassment and one a claim for one other form of gender-related discrimination.

The case – which, from the face of it, seems to have been amenable to a settlement agreement – came before the Employment Tribunal earlier this year. The Employment Tribunal heard that a number of incidents had occurred with Miss M after she had applied to join the firearms unit of the North Yorkshire Police force. She gave evidence at the Tribunal that the following (among others) had occurred:

  • A training inspector asking Miss M on a recruitment day whether she would like him to get her a pink gun for training
  • Miss M being told to follow a police dog, the result of which was that Miss M was led to a kit belt hidden in a cabinet which contained hardcore pornography
  • Being told that she could not be teamed up with another female police officer because they would have to go to the toilet together
  • An alleged “cover-up” by senior officers in the North Yorkshire Police

Four other allegations were apparently not proven by Miss M.

Miss M’s employment law solicitor claimed at the Tribunal that the North Yorkshire Police force had attempted to “cover up” the discrimination and harassment that was taking place, and that they had further sided with “the lads” in the firearms unit.

Miss M further gave evidence that she had been seriously emotionally affected by the incidents that had taken place, saying that the abuse had “ruined her career” and that she had suffered depression and insomnia as a result of the abuse. It had also left her relationship with her partner in jeopardy and rendered her tearful.

The Tribunal found in Miss M’s favour in all three elements of discrimination. She was apparently awarded over £20,000 for injury to feelings (as well as, potentially, loss of earnings and aggravated damages). Her lawyer also asked the Tribunal to consider recommending that the offending firearms officers undergo diversity and equality training and that any senior officer in the North Yorkshire Police undergo training to enable them to deal better with complaints of discrimination.

Gender-related harassment in the workplace occurs when a female or male is subjected to “unwanted conduct” which has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the complainant or violating their dignity. The conduct in this case was clearly unwanted and is a classic case of workplace “banter” going beyond what is appropriate in the circumstances.

Redmans Solicitors are unfair dismissal solicitors based in London

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