The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld Chief Inspector Denby’s claims that he was subjected to sex discrimination and victimisation by the Metropolitan Police Service (the Met).
The case attracted media attention because of the seniority of the officers involved and because there are relatively few successful male claimants in a case of this type.
Backed throughout by the Police Federation, and represented by Sarah Bains, a specialist employment solicitor in Pattinson & Brewer’s employment team, Chief Inspector Denby won his claims of direct sex discrimination and victimisation at Central London Employment Tribunal in 2016. The Met appealed the decision on multiple grounds. All those grounds failed.
In a culture perceived as hostile to women, illustrated by such matters as men clad only in towels, under-representation of women and alcohol at work, very senior Met officers had taken the view that Chief Inspector Denby was not the right person to confront the issues. He was subsequently removed from his command. He was also placed under an investigation, put on restricted duties and suffered a downgrading of a performance review that effectively prevented his promotion to Superintendent.
The EAT upheld the tribunal findings that senior officers had been the relevant decision makers and that their decisions were taken on the unlawful ground of sex.
The Met was criticized by the tribunal for its “opaque decision making”. The EAT rightly held that employers should not be allowed to use a deliberate lack of transparency to hide the true identity of decision makers and so escape liability for discrimination.