An elite firearms officer at North Yorkshire Police Force has won £20,000 in compensation after a campaign of bullying and sexual harassment by colleagues.
The police markswoman was accused of having an affair with a senior officer, was fooled into opening a stash of hardcore pornography and was asked by a trainee inspector “would you like me to get you some pink guns?”
The Employment Tribunal found that there was a culture of discrimination within her team at the North Yorkshire Police Force and that senior officers had not taken her complaints seriously enough when they were raised. The Claimant, who remains a police officer, said that she was left tearful, unable to sleep and felt that the bullying had damaged her career. She had complained several times in 2010, before making an official complaint to her superiors in January 2011, at which point she was removed from the high-profile firearms unit.
The Claimant’s lawyer accused North Yorkshire police of a “cover up” and that a senior officer, to whom the Claimant would have looked to for support, had decided to side with “the lads”. The Employment Tribunal found in favour of the Claimant on three grounds of sex discrimination and awarded her a substantial sum of £20,000 damages.
After the ruling, a spokesman for North Yorkshire Police commented, “in view of the Tribunal’s earlier findings, the Force accepts that the Claimant officer was entitled to an award of damages. Lessons learned from the case have been, and will continue to be, carried into effect”.
The case highlights the difficulty that women employees face in a predominantly male working environment, and how prudent employers need to be with regard to equal opportunities, sexual harassment and bullying.