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Discrimination in the police force

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Discrimination can take many forms during the course of somebody’s employment and the police force are not immune from discrimination claims. Recently, one of Britain’s most senior female police officers began legal action at the employment tribunal against the Metropolitan Police.

Parm Sandhu has worked for the Met since 1989 and is one of only a few female Asian officers in England and Wales in a senior level position in the police force, holding the post of temporary Chief Superintendent. In 2018 there were only six Chief Superintendents and three higher ranking officers of Asian heritage. Most of these were male.

Ms Sandhu was recently investigated over allegations of gross misconduct for breaching police honours rules. She was cleared last month having been supported by the Police Superintendents’ Association during the investigation.

She has now taken legal action on the basis that she was denied promotion and work opportunities on the basis of her race and gender. Ms Sandhu is being supported in her action by the Metropolitan Black Police Association who have expressed concern about the lack of senior female ethnic minority officers.

How does the law protect people against discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against somebody because they hold a protected characteristic under the Act such as race, disability, religion or sex. Therefore, being denied any opportunity such as promotion or progression because of one of these reasons could amount to discrimination.

In Ms Sandhu’s, or anybody’s claim for discrimination, if successful, the employment tribunal will look to the nature and seriousness of the discrimination when deciding how much (if any) compensation to award to the individual if they are successful in their claim.

What can you do if you have been discriminated against by your employer?

You need to take urgent action in pursuing this. This is because in order to raise a claim at an employment tribunal, you need to act within three months less one day from the act of discrimination to raise a claim in the employment tribunal by first entering into the ACAS early conciliation process. It is always sensible to try and resolve any complaint by dealing with this directly with your employer, whether by way of informal or formal grievance.

If you have exhausted the internal complaint process at work and you feel that legal action and advice is necessary, you can contact a member of our specialist employment and discrimination department on 01616 966 229.