Veale Wasbrough Vizards

UK 200 2014 position: 93

Is removal of tool of trade from pregnant employee discrimination?

Was it a detriment for a police dog handler to have one of her dogs removed from her care when she was no longer operational due to pregnancy? Yes, held the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Keohane.

The EAT upheld an employment tribunal’s decision that the police had directly discriminated against a police dog handler by requiring her to return a police dog during her maternity leave. The EAT found that, while the loss of a dog as a companion could not itself lead to a detriment, the risk of the impact upon the police dog handler’s career progression and risk that she would be denied opportunities for overtime upon her return did amount to a detriment that she had suffered.

The police argued that it had a need to keep the search dog operational and that this was the major factor in the removal decision. Nevertheless, the EAT concluded that this did not mean that the claimant’s pregnancy was not a cause of the detriment (i.e. one of several causes)…

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