PC Rachel Garrett, 47, submitted her claim for discrimination and whistleblowing claim after Thames Valley Police cancelled her scheduled wedding leave in 2011. She had apparently booked a number of weeks’ leave in order to undertake a honeymoon after her wedding but her now-husband (a sergeant in the Thames Valley Police) found that the planned leave had been cancelled whilst she was signed off work sick. Mrs Garrett subsequently took advice from employment law solicitors and submitted an Employment Tribunal claim for whistleblowing, sex discrimination and disability discrimination.
PC Garrett’s whistleblowing claim was founded upon the fact that she asserted that senior police officers had turned against her once she had made the claims. The filing of a discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal is classed as a “protected act” and she claimed that she had been subjected to the detriment of “over-scrutiny” by Inspector Roy Atwell and Superintendent Gex Chiarello because she had undertaken this protected act. She further claimed that denying her the wedding leave and failing to inform her of the cancellation of the wedding leave whilst she was off sick was discriminatory.
The Employment Tribunal dismissed all of PC Garrett’s claims, finding that PC Garrett had not suffered any form of detriment and – even if she had – that the reason for any detriment was not because she had undertaken a protected act. Further, the discrimination claims failed because she had not suffered any form of detriment.
This case demonstrates how difficult it can potentially be to succeed with discrimination claims and whistleblowing claims in the Employment Tribunal. We’ll have a brief look below at what a Claimant must prove in order to succeed with either a discrimination and/or a whistleblowing claim.
There are many types of discrimination that can occur – we’ll focus here on direct discrimination and its definition. Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of their protected characteristic (their age, sex, race, disability etc.). In order to succeed in a claim for direct discrimination the aggrieved party must demonstrate that some form of detriment has occurred, that they have been treated less favourably than another (comparable) person, and that the reason for such treatment was because of the aggrieved person’s protected characteristic.
In order to succeed in a whistleblowing claim a Claimant must show that they have undertaken a “protected act” and that (as a result of this protected act) they have been subjected to some form of detriment or that they have been dismissed (if they’re an employee). The Claimant must therefore show that they’ve been subjected to some form of detriment, that they have undertaken a protected act (for example, the reporting of a criminal act or environmental damage) and that there’s a causal link between the two events.
PC Garrett failed in her case because she was unable to demonstrate that she had been subjected to a detriment and – even if she had – that there was a causal link between her being subjected to the detriment and her undertaking of the protected act.