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8316975951_91fb909ef4A Group Captain in the RAF has successfully sued the Ministry of Defence in a landmark case after she was denied promotion to a tri-service post.

Group Captain Wendy Williams, who commenced employment with the RAF in 1984, was a senior nurse in the RAF. A vacancy for a tri-service post at the Defence Medical Group arose in 2011 and Group Captain Williams applied to be the RAF’s nominee to this post. Success in the application to this post would have meant promotion to the position of One Star General with the rank of Air Commodore. However, a male doctor, Group Captain John Gaffney was selected to be the RAF’s nominee instead. It is unknown whether Group Captain Gaffney was in fact promoted to the post. Group Captain Williams subsequently made a complaint of indirect discrimination against the Ministry of Defence under the Equalities Act 2010 and the case came to the Employment Tribunal earlier this year.

The Employment Tribunal heard evidence that Group Captain Williams had not been selected for the post even though she was highly qualified and highly recommended and that a doctor had instead been chosen for the post. Group Captain Williams contended that the dismissal of Group Captain Gaffney was discriminatory as the RAF had a practice of promoting men – rather than women – to senior officer positions. Further, she contended that it was the RAF’s procedure to fill medical “One Star” roles that were theoretically open to both doctors and nurses only with doctors. She advanced the Ministry of Defence’s own 2011 figures as evidence for this – figures that showed that of the RAF’s 470 top senior officers, only six were women. The RAF contended that Group Captain Gaffney had been the more qualified and suitable candidate and that – even if he had not been – its decision was both made with a legitimate aim in mind and proportionate.

The Employment Tribunal found in Group Captain Williams’ favour in her claim, finding that she had been denied the post due to discrimination. The Tribunal commented that “Viewed with an objective eye against the job specification, we have considered all the evidence and find that for a number of reasons the claimant was not only equal to Group Captain Gaffney but that an objective review of her appraisals and those of Group Captain Gaffney would have led to the claimant being considered as the properly preferred candidate of the RAF”.

An RAF spokesman said after the judgment that: “The RAF is fully committed to the Equality Act 2010 and has consistently received extensive recognition for its work on gender equality and in promoting career opportunities for women”

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor in the Employment Team at Redmans, commented that “organisations can often make unconsciously discriminating actions against applicants or their own employees without any conscious discriminatory intent and must be on their guard against doing so – a failure to carry out a fair and objective process can lead to costly (and potentially damaging) Employment Tribunal claims”.

Photo: Azora Photography

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).

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Testimonials

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Stephanie H

Clear, prompt, effective support from Chris which has been very much appreciated. Thank you again.

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Anonymous

I would highly recommend Redmans Solicitors, the team were very friendly and my case was dealt with professionally and efficiently. Thank you!

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You have good communication.

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Posted 9 months ago

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Chris is very professional and calm. Very attentive and patient, been a positive experience having Chris represent me, and would recommend him.

Posted 10 months ago

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Excellent service. It was a pleasure to work with Chris H, who is brilliant at what he does and very efficient. Their Senior Associate Rana T. is also very knowledgeable and resolves any queries speedily and efficiently. My issue could unfortunately not be resolved, but that was due to my employer and not the firm. Redmans however did all they could. I would definitely recommend them.

Posted 10 months ago

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Very helpful, efficient service.

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Anonymous

I am very lucky that I worked with Mr. Chris Hadrill and he managed my case very progressively with an analytical approach and trustfully. Of course with a very positive result. I strongly recommend Mr. Hadrill to any one seeking for a successful result from a highly qualified solicitor.

Posted 11 months ago

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Amazing, quick friendly service from Chris from the start and Caroline. They made me feel at ease during a difficult time, they understood and advised accordingly and I am really happy with the outcome of my case. Will always advise anyone who needs legal advice to contact Redmans, I’m so glad that I did and can confidently say I don’t think any other firm could have handled my case any better. Well done guys, wish you all the best and please keep doing what your doing, simply the best!

Posted 11 months ago

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Posted 11 months ago

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My solicitor at Redmans was very helpful and efficient. Really pleased with the smooth service.

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