Woman’s best friend — removal of police dog from pregnant handler was direct discrimination

PC Keohane was a dog handler, handling two ‘narcotics’ dogs. Her status as a dual narcotics dog handler was important in that it enhanced her career prospects and gave her an opportunity to earn overtime. The Metropolitan Police operated a policy on the re-allocation or withdrawal of police dogs where handlers were likely to be non-operational for a while. For pregnancy or maternity leave, it specified that female officers would, in most cases, not be permitted to continue as operational dog handlers during their pregnancy, for health and safety reasons.

When PC Keohane told the Metropolitan Police that she was pregnant, a decision was taken to re-allocate Nunki Pippin, her ‘passive’ search dog, leaving her with a proactive search dog.

The Employment Tribunal found that the reason for the removal, and subsequently a failure to re-allocate the dog to her before the end of her maternity leave, was her pregnancy and maternity, and hence was directly discriminatory…

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