£30,000 Awarded to Senior Firearms Officer in Sex Discrimination and Harassment Claim
In the case of Mrs R Kalam v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, a former senior firearms officer has succeeded with her claims, including sex discrimination. As a result, Mrs Kalam has been awarded £30,000 for injury to feelings.
If you have suffered harassment related to sex, read our guide for more information. Alternatively, you can contact us today. Redmans Solicitors are experts in employment law and can assist eligible individuals through the legal process.
The Facts in Mrs R Kalam v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police
Mrs R Kalam (“The Claimant”) began working for West Midlands Police (“The Respondent”) on 14 September 2008. From January 2012 to March 2021, she was an authorised firearms officer in the firearms operations unit (“FOU”).
In the period from 2 March to 12 April 2021, the former senior firearms officer undertook ACAS early conciliation. Then, on 12 May 2021, she brought her claims to an employment tribunal. These included complaints of direct and indirect sex discrimination, harassment related to sex, victimisation, and detriment for making protected disclosures.
Whilst making such claims, the claimant also made a grievance to the respondent along the same lines. In November 2022, the majority of Mrs Kalam’s grievance was upheld. As such, the West Midlands Police Force largely admitted to the claims but took issue with time limits.
However, days before the hearing, their stance changed, and they admitted almost full liability. Therefore, the employment tribunal essentially became a remedy hearing.
The Former Senior Firearms Officer’s Complaints
In 2012, Mrs Kalam was made the ‘poster girl’ of the FOU and told she couldn’t pass a training course if she disagreed.
Furthermore, in March of that year, the former senior firearms officer had to act as a ‘stooge’ in a training exercise. This meant her clothes were cut off, and she was stripped down to her underwear for first aid treatment. The scenario involved a bullet hole to the top of the left breast, meaning officers had to treat this area. This left the claimant feeling “extremely uncomfortable”.
Also, during a training exercise that month, a male officer pushed down on the back of her neck with his foot whilst she was doing press ups. He then told the claimant, “Just because you have tits does not mean you cannot do a press up”.
Then, in April 2016, Mrs Kalam was required to pose for a photoshoot despite being five months pregnant. Additionally, in December 2020, the respondent refused to allow the claimant to attend assessment days for aspiring firearms officers. Also, in that month, the claimant was shouted at and had a door slammed behind her during a meeting. Moreover, in January 2021, the respondent delayed her transfer to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from the FOU.
Aside from the timeline of complaints, additional ones were made, including:
- Failure to provide suitable PPE, such as trousers, folding handcuffs and ballistic armour
- Failure to order ballistic armour suitable for women, irrespective of when male equivalents were ordered
- Not being provided with a handgun with an easier trigger pull like other male officers
- Male officers drawing male genitalia images around the office
- Male officers using the word “cunt” whilst at the station
The Decision of the Employment Tribunal
Since the West Midlands Police admitted liability for the former senior firearms officer’s complaints, the tribunal was then required to determine the appropriate remedy.
In doing so, they clarified what incidents resulted in the respondent’s liability for each complaint. They outlined the respondent is liable for direct and indirect sex discrimination for failure to provide PPE and order the female ballistic armour.
Furthermore, they said the respondent is liable for sex harassment due to, among other things, the ‘poster girl’, the ‘stooge’ and the press ups incidents. They added the respondent is liable for victimisation because they didn’t allow the former senior firearms officer to attend the assessment days and delayed her transfer to another department.
Finally, they stated that the respondent was liable for causing Mrs Kalam detriment because she made a protected disclosure for the same reasons used for victimisation liability. They also said the meeting at which she was shouted at made them liable.
After clarifying the respondent’s liability, the tribunal ruled that West Midlands Police had to pay Mrs Kalam £30,000 for injury to feelings. She’d also previously been awarded £3,000 for injuries sustained due to unsuitable PPE.
However, this isn’t the only payout the claimant will receive, with a hearing concerning loss of earnings and pensions yet to take place in January 2024. Since Mrs Kalam was subjected to victimisation, detriments and discrimination at work her career was affected, and her prospects halted.
As such, the tribunal must consider what past earnings she lost out on and what future earnings she would’ve received had she not been affected. Therefore, the former senior firearms officer could still be awarded substantial compensation.