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The right of police officers to bring discrimination claims

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Last week, the Supreme Court held that police officers have the right to bring claims of discrimination in the employment tribunal, where the decision to dismiss was made by a misconduct panel.

Before the Supreme Court’s judgment, police officers were unable to bring claims of discrimination against their employer where the decision to dismiss had been made by a misconduct panel. The reasoning behind this was that a panel, such as a misconduct panel, was regarded as a judicial body. As such, its decisions were protected by ‘judicial immunity’, meaning that a civil claim (including an employment tribunal claim) could not be brought on the basis of its decisions.

In effect, this placed the decisions of a misconduct panel (and other ‘judicial panels’) on par with a decision of a court, in that it could not be challenged on the grounds that the decision was discriminatory.

However the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case of P v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has changed this position entirely. The court considered that the European Framework Directive provides all persons, including police officers, the right to equal treatment and that all persons should be able to bring claims of an infringement of this right in an employment tribunal. It therefore held that the employment tribunal are now able to hear claims of discrimination where the alleged discriminatory decision was taken by a panel.

It is considered by some that the decision may have the potential to lift the ban on bringing claims of discrimination against other professional panels, and it is understood that the Ministry of Justice have been asked to clarify the professions that the ruling will apply to.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against then you may be able to bring a claim for discrimination under the terms of the Equality Act 2010. Please contact our specialist discrimination team for further advice on 01616 966 229.

By Michelle Tilley, employment & discrimination team