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Vicarous Liability in Police Force

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[Thanks to David Campion, Pupil Barrister at Garden Court North Chambers, for preparing this case summary]

Could a chief police officer be vicariously liable for alleged discriminatory acts of a police officer against a civilian employee, under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975?

Yes, says the EAT in Metropolitan Police v Weeks. The Claimant was a Senior Crime Intelligence Researcher employed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. The Claimant was line managed by a City of London Police Detective Sergeant.

The Claimant's line manager, who had a supervisory responsibility towards the Claimant's employment and her levels of pay, rejected the Claimant's application for flexible working (a decision in turn overruled by a senior officer) and subsequently requested the cessation of the Claimant's shift allowance.

The employment tribunal originally determined that the Claimant's line manager made these decisions with the consent and authority of the Commissioner, a decision upheld by the EAT. The EAT concluded, at paragraph 25 of its Judgment, that the Commissioner was aware of the decisions made by the Claimant's line manager and that it was 'no major leap' to conclude such decisions were made either expressly or impliedly on his instructions, with his consent and on his behalf.