Female police officer wins discrimination case

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A female police officer, who had her promotion taken away when she asked for flexible working to look after her two young children, has won an indirect sex discrimination claim.

Mum-of-two Hayley Burden, from Waterlooville, was posted to Aldershot police station, over an hour commute from her home, following her successful promotion in 2013.

The 36-year-old, whose husband is also a police officer, asked for flexible working as she said it would otherwise be impossible to provide childcare for her young children at 5.30am when she had to be in work by 7am.

But her bosses at the force refused – and then took away her promotion a few days later.

The actions of the force over the two years caused Mrs Burden to suffer anxiety and depression. The tribunal ruled that the constabulary’s actions had been discriminatory and ordered that she be reinstated to the rank of sergeant.

The judgment said Hampshire Constabulary was ‘indirectly discriminatory because the claimant was unable to take up the posting because of her child care responsibilities’.

It went on: ‘The claimant was due to commence this substantive sergeant post on October 28, 2013. However, the respondent refused the claimant’s flexible working request. The claimant decided on 29 October, 2013 that she would not be able to take up her promotion in Aldershot.’

Six days later Mrs Burden was informed that she ‘would be considered as having withdrawn from the promotion process if she did not accept the posting in Aldershot’.

The judgment in the case, which was funded by the Police Federation of England and Wales, also recommended the force ‘should take steps to ensure that welfare considerations of successful applicants for promotion are investigated and considered before postings are made.’

The tribunal ordered Hampshire police to pay Mrs Burden a total of £11,621.26 for injury to feelings, aggravated damages, loss of earnings and loss of pension plus interest. They were also told to pay for her £1,200 tribunal hearing fee.

Mrs Burden said: ‘The last two years have been really stressful for me and my family. This whole affair has had a big impact on my home life so I am delighted the judgment was in my favour. Now I hope I can move forward and get on with my career. I just hope this never happens to anybody else.’

John Apter, chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation, said: ‘It was clear the force had not followed correct processes and Hayley had been treated unfairly and that is why we took legal action.’

Mrs Burden’s lawyer, Jasmine van Loggerenberg, an employment law specialist from Slater & Gordon, said: ‘It’s disappointing that Mrs Burden was subjected to discrimination because she asked for flexible working hours. We hope Hampshire Constabulary and other forces note the findings and this does not happen again.’