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05 May 2015
Slater and Gordon Employment Solicitor Sharon Wardale successfully assisted a senior Police Officer in one of the largest Police Forces in the country after he was subjected to a series of racially discriminatory acts by his managers and investigators in relation to a complaint by a colleague.
Slater and Gordon Solicitor: Sharon Wardale is an Employment Law Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
Settlement value: undisclosed
Sharon's client was promoted to a senior position after becoming a Police Officer in the late 1980s.
In early 2013 he reprimanded a junior colleague for his attitude and behaviour following which the pair exchanged frank words in a private room at a police station. The junior colleague, in a move to pre-empt a more formal complaint about his own conduct, complained to more senior managers about the incident and those managers grasped the complaint and ran with it.
The Senior Management Team immediately transferred Sharon's client from his position of responsibility and subjected him to significant restrictions. They passed conduct of the incident to the Force’s Professional Standards Department who also subjected it to an overzealous, disproportionate and extremely protracted investigation. Despite there being some CCTV footage of the incident and being fully aware that no-one had witnessed the actual incident, they interviewed over 15 of Sharon's client’s colleagues.
The investigation lasted 11 months and a less than impartial report was produced. The Police Federation representative noted that officers of similar or greater seniority accused of significantly more serious misconduct had not been subjected to such a degree of scrutiny.
Sharon's client, being mixed race Afro-Caribbean/white and the more favourably treated officers being white, the Federation identified this as a case of race discrimination and an Employment Tribunal claim was promptly submitted.
The case was funded and supported by the Police Federation. In the end, the 2013 incident was dealt with as one of low-level performance but the discrimination continued within the litigation, giving rise to possible aggravated damages.
Attempts to settle the claim were ignored and the case proceeded to hearing in February 2015. Only then did the Chief Constable apparently suggest that it may be better for the ongoing employment relationship to try to resolve the situation.
How Sharon helped: Sharon reached a successful resolution for her client which included substantial compensation, a letter of apology and an undertaking about her client’s ongoing role.
Sharon's client found part of the Tribunal proceedings so satisfying that he is considering a future career in litigation!
Decision: Successful settlement and substantial compensation awarded.
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