Malone v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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Malone v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland

Malone v Chief Constable of the Police Service of Scotland

29th June 2022 - Published by

A female firearms officer working for Police Scotland based in Edinburgh, Rhona Malone, resigned from her position in response to what she described as a “horrific” bullying and an “absolute boys culture”

Central to the claim, was her complaint regarding an email recommending that in the situation where there are two female firearms officers and one male firearms officer – the policy would be to deploy the single male, based on,

“the obvious differences in physical capacity, it makes more sense from a search, balance of testosterone perspective.”

When the Claimant raised this complaint with the person who wrote the email, she was threatened with suspension for not acting in a “calm/restrained and controlled manner”.  There were many other examples with graphic evidence, showing a culture of appalling treatment and attitudes towards females in particular, which included messages sent to staff of topless women.

Although the Tribunal dismissed the Claimant’s claim for direct sex discrimination, her claim for victimisation succeeded.  The Tribunal held that there was insufficient evidence to support the Claimant’s claim that she was treated less favourably because she is a female.  The key to the success of her victimisation claim was that evidence showed that there were significant delays in processing her ill-health retirement application as a direct response to her raising a grievance and reference was made to a communication by HR which said that there was a “general feeling of unease” in relation to the process.  The Tribunal were satisfied that HR had failed to put aside the fact that the Claimant had raised a grievance when dealing with her ill-health retirement application.

Discrimination claims are not subject to any cap on the compensation that can be awarded. The reasons why the compensatory award was so high in this case was due to the evidence that overwhelmingly showed that there was “an absolute boy’s club” culture and because she was victimised on multiple occasions by staff and police officers of various ranks across multiple Police Scotland departments, serious failings to deal with someone appropriately when issues were raised.

Once judgment in her case was made, Ms Malone confirmed that Police Scotland asked her to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she refused to enter into.  Ms Malone has been recorded in the national press stating that she felt she was being forced to sign and accept the NDA.

Whilst the facts of this case were extreme, it nonetheless serves to highlight potentially astronomical costs of enabling a sexist culture and not only failing to properly address complaints made but allowing retribution for making the complaint to be metered out -something which any Tribunal would take an extremely dim view of.

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