A female police officer has won her claim for sexual harassment in an Employment Tribunal after she was harassed at work by her former boyfriend, also a police officer, after she started a relationship with another colleague.
The female police officer (“Officer A”) – who cannot be named for legal reasons – made her claim for sexual harassment after her former boyfriend (“Officer B”) – a serving sergeant in the West Midlands Police – sent her almost a dozen text messages after she split up with Officer B and started a relationship with a colleague, Officer C.
Officer B, who had ended a seven-year relationship with another police officer to be with Officer A, was distraught when he found out that Officer A had broken up with him after two a tw0-year relationship and had started going out with Officer C. He then found out that she was planning to co-habit with Officer C and sent her ten texts and phone calls over a 24-hour period between 23 and 24 October 2011. Officer C then commenced Employment Tribunal proceedings against Officer B, contending that she had been sexually harassed by Officer B’s on 23 and 24 October 2011.
The claim came to the Employment Tribunal earlier this year, with Officers A and B giving evidence. The Employment Tribunal heard evidence that Officer B had sent Officer A a number of text messages which were of a sexual nature, that Officer A had not wanted to receive these texts., and that the nature of the texts had, she contended, created an offensive workplace environment for her. Officer B’s legal team argued that Officer A had engaged in sexual flirtation with other officers in the workplace and that she therefore could not have seen the texts from Officer B as being unwanted.
The Employment Tribunal released its reserved judgment in the case, ruling in favour of Officer A in her claim for sexual harassment. However, the Employment Tribunal stated that Officer A had “enjoyed the attention of male colleagues” and that “it was clear to the tribunal that the claimant had indeed derived much work-related benefit from her personal relationship with B. On one date, September 4 2011, the claimant received affectionate text messages from three difference male officers on her team. We believe the claimant enjoyed the attention of male colleagues.”
A ruling on remedy (how much Officer A will receive for her claim) is expected later this year.
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Sexual harassment in the workplace can and does occur in the workplace even if there is no intention on the part of the harasser to harass the harassee – what matters is, generally, the effect that the harassment has on the harrassee.”