Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of A v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police UKEAT/0313/14/JOJ the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) held that a female police officer had been sexually harassed by a male colleague when she informed him that she wished to end their sexual relationship yet he continued to contact her for two days after.

The facts

A, a young female officer in the West Midlands Police Force (“WMPF”), complained that she had been the subject of the unwanted attentions of a senior officer, B, between March 2009 and October 2011.

On 30 July 2011 A and B attended a work-related barbeque. C, a colleague of A’s whom was becoming close to A (and subsequently became her long-term partner), also attended, as did B’s long-term partner (“F”), who was concerned about B’s relationship with A. There was a confrontation between F and B, and the atmosphere between B and A became increasingly tense; A and B exchanged comments later that evening and there was some friction. However, A and B remained close until the end of October 2011.

In mid-September 2011 B helped A to apply for a post in the offender management team, as it was normal practice for a supervising sergeant to assist officers who are applying for new roles. They collaborated in September and October 2011 to put the draft application together and undertook mock interviews. On 23 September 2011 Inspector Rowe informed B that A’s application was not of the required standard; B was annoyed by this as A had apparently not followed his advice and guidance. A alleged that B physically assaulted her by grabbing her arm on this date. On 24 September 2011 B and A had a further meeting of an hour and a half to ensure that the application was completed to the required standard and on time.

On 21 October 2011 there was a road traffic accident involving A’s father. This changed A’s view of B.

On 22 October 2011 B decided to abandon his relationship with his long-term partner and proposed marriage to A. A rejected his proposal on the same day and ended her relationship with B. On 23 and 24 October 2011 B continued to contact A, attempting to persuade her to marry him. A complained to Inspector Rowe about B’s communications and late on 24 October 2011 Inspector Rowe informed B that he was not to contact A. B did not do so.

A’s complaints regarding B were subsequently investigated by WMPF and an outcome produced.

A made the following claims to the Employment Tribunal:

  1. Sexual harassment – alleging that she had been sexually harassed by B between March 2009 and 24 October 2011; and
  2. Victimisation – alleging that WMPF had subjected her to the detriment of failing to properly investigate her complaint because she had made a complaint of sexual harassment

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal held that until 23 October 2011 the relationship between A and B had been an entirely mutual one and that there had not been any harassment (as B’s conduct towards A had not been “unwanted”): A had instigated a number of incidents, the two police officers had been closed, and had regularly exchanged messages of a sexual and emotional nature. Further, A had made no complaint at any point until the end of their relationship that B’s attentions were unwanted. The Tribunal found, however, that B’s conduct towards A on 23 and 24 October 2011 was unwanted, related to A’s gender, and had violated her dignity.

With regards to the complaint of victimisation, the Employment Tribunal held that WMPF’s handling of the complaint process could not be reasonably deemed to be a detriment to A and therefore dismissed her complaint.

A appealed the Employment Tribunal’s findings on both the grounds of sexual harassment and victimisation, arguing that:

  1. The Tribunal’s decision to reject A’s complaint of victimisation on the facts was an error of law or perverse
  2. That the Tribunal’s decision to reject A’s complaint of sexual harassment in relation to the incident that B had assaulted A at the barbeque on 30 July 2011 and that he had further assaulted her on 23 September 2011 was an error of law or perverse, in that the Tribunal had failed to making a finding on either of these complaints

The decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal

The EAT dismissed A’s appeals, holding that the Tribunal had not made an error of law or a perverse decision with regards to the victimisation, as it had carefully considered the evidence, applied the law correctly, and had come to the reasonable conclusion that A’s case was not made out.

Further, the EAT rejected A’s appeals regarding the Tribunal’s failure to make findings on the incidents dated 30 July 2011 and 23 September 2011. With regards to the incident on 30 July 2011, the EAT held that although the Tribunal had failed to make a finding as to whether B had assaulted A, the lack of a specific finding should be taken into the context of the Tribunal’s findings on what had also occurred (or not occurred) on that day. The EAT posited, on an alternative basis, that the Tribunal’s failure to make a finding on that particular incident would probably not have affected its decision.

With regards to the incident on 23 September 2011, the EAT was concerned as to the Tribunal’s failure to make findings on this incident but inferred that the failure to make a specific finding imputed that the Tribunal had come to the conclusion that B’s grabbing of A on that date (which he did not deny) was not undertaken with a sexual motive or undercurrent.

Our comment on the case

This case is notable for two reasons:

  1. It is a demonstration that, although sexual conduct from one employee (“A”) to another (“B”) might be consented to at one point (and therefore lawful, should A subsequently end the relationship then further communication from B to A may be unlawful harassment
  2. The EAT is normally slow to overturn the rulings of Tribunal’s if the Tribunal has failed to make specific findings of fact, as the EAT will look at the Tribunal’s findings in the round before deciding whether the Tribunal’s failures on the specific points would have affected the Tribunal’s final judgment

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.79 Average

    274 Reviews

    Mary B

    I was very happy with the work Chris did for me. I believe with his help I secured a more favourable outcome both financially and in terms of clauses contained in the legal agreement I ultimately signed. I had utmost trust and confidence in the advice Chris provided throughout. Chris kept me informed at every stage and I found him very efficient at bringing matters to a conclusion without unnecessary delay.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Mark M

    I found Redmans very easy to work with. Mel was very responsive, her advice led to an improved settlement. . Recommended.!

    Posted 3 days ago

    Anonymous

    Fantastic service. I would recommend Redmans to anyone who needed a Solicitor. The communication was second to none and consistent clear guidance was given.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Everyone I dealt with at Redmans were professional, empathetic & always responded promptly and helped make the transition as smooth & efficient as possible for me. If you need legal advice, don’t hesitate & contact the team.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was incredibly helpful and professional. Timely and accurate advice at a time I most needed it. I was extremely impressed and grateful.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 2 months ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 2 months ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 2 months ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Anonymous

    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 2 months ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 2 months ago