Police officers wins over £200,000 in Employment Tribunal disability discrimination claim

MoJA police officer who was forced to retire from his job has won over £200,000 after an Employment Tribunal ruled that his employer had failed in its duties relating to his disability.

Mr Horler, a former police officer in the South Wales Police Service, made a claim for disability discrimination in the Employment Tribunal after he was dismissed from his role in the police service in December 2011 for the reason of redundancy. His problems in the police force started in 2009 after he started to suffer from pain and stiffness in one of his knees because of torn cartilage. He then developed arthritis and the South Wales Police Service accepted that he was disabled under the Equality Act 2010. After he was diagnosed he was placed on restricted back-office duties and in October 2010 Mr Horler was advised by occupational health that he would be unable to return to front-line duties because of his injury. He was then told that he would be unable to undertake “ordinary police duties” at a later date by a doctor and that he could consider applying for “ill-health” retirement. Mr Horler disagreed and was moved to a role as a camera room operator in 2011.

Later in 2011 Mr Horler was informed that the chief constable of the South Wales Police Service was recommending him for early retirement. Mr Horler was angered by this and submitted a grievance. He was then told that the positions in the camera room may be made redundant in the future. He was subsequently made redundant in December 2011.

The claim came to the Employment Tribunal earlier this year, with the Employment Tribunal ruling in Mr Horler’s favour in his claim for disability discrimination. The Tribunal panel held that the police force had failed to make reasonable adjustments as such adjustments could have been made and there were a number of roles that would have been suitable for Mr Horler and that he had a reasonable chance of obtaining. Mr Horler was awarded £230,215 for injury to feelings and loss of earnings (as well as interest on these sums).

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This is one of two large awards stretching into the hundreds of thousands of pounds in the Employment Tribunal that were reported last week. Employers must be careful to try and take reasonable steps to consider suitable alternative employment for employees if they are making those employees redundant or believe that employee is no longer able to adequately perform that role because of age or disability. A failure to do so can lead to potentially expensive and time-consuming Employment Tribunal claims.”