A police constable in the response team at Devon and Cornwall Police who was taken away from front line duties and placed in a desk-based role was the subject of pregnancy discrimination and indirect discrimination, an employment tribunal rules.
On 21 November 2017, Mrs Town notified her line manager that she was pregnant and, although she would have reduced responsibilities, Mrs Town wished to remain in her role as a response officer until she went on maternity leave.
A risk assessment confirmed she was fit to remain in her role as long as adjustments were made, including working less night shifts and undertaking lower-risk work such as interviewing witnesses.
However, on the 19 December 2017, during a meeting of the constabulary’s senior management, it was decided that Mrs Town would be moved over to the Crime Management Hub (CMH) – an office-based department that dealt with low-level crime. Mrs Town was informed of the decision a few weeks later and told that it was due to the “business needs” and her restricted duties.
Mrs Town then suffered from anxiety and depression - which her GP and midwife claimed was due to her redeployment - resulting in Mrs Town going on sick leave from 22 December 2017 until she returned to work in the CMH on the 10 February 2018.
Mrs Town worked in the CMH from February 2018 until she was returned to the response team in May. She continued to deal with an “overflow” of work from the CMH up until her maternity leave in July 2018.
Despite Devon and Cornwall Police maintaining that Mrs Town’s pregnancy had not influenced her role change in the force, the tribunal ruled she had received unfavourable treatment on the grounds of pregnancy.
Employment judge David Harris concluded:
“It removed her from a working environment that she found particularly supportive, and removed her from work that she valued and enjoyed. Indeed, it was the very work that the claimant had joined the police to be able to do.”
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