Pregnancy and discrimination: Nunki Pippin

Tags: The Equality Act 2010, Pregnancy Discrimination, Employment Law, Employment Tribunal

From a lay objective, when it comes to pregnancy and discrimination, employers always seem to be skirting a fine line with virtually any alteration to the work situation of the relevant pregnant lady.

It can then occasionally be surprising as to what may constitute a ‘detriment’ within the meaning of section 18 of the Equality Act 2010 (EQA).  In the recent case of Metropolitan Police v Keohane, the question was asked as to whether a police dog handler suffered a detriment by having her dog removed from her when she ceased to be operational due to her pregnancy.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the removal of the dog, named Nunki Pippin, would indeed amount to a detriment. The overarching reason for this finding was that the removal of dear old Nunki would produce an impact on the career progression of the officer.

The argument advanced by The Met was that there was a need to keep the dog operational, so the reason for the removal was not the Claimant’s pregnancy. The original tribunal’s findings were that the Claimant’s pregnancy had been a factor, rather than simply “the context in which the circumstances had arisen”. The tribunal also cited that it was sufficient that the pregnancy had been a significant and material influence on the decision.

The EAT stated in its decision that with regard to the interpretation of section 18 EQA that neither a ‘broad’ or ‘narrow’ approach to causation in detriment cases should be applied, opining that causation was a finding to be “robustly made”. It did however concede were this approach later to be found as flawed that a broad approach should be preferred, citing the Equal Treatment Directive 2006/54/EC, which uses the term ‘related to’, which has wider application than ‘because of’.

PC Keohane therefore was able to hold onto her £11,000 compensation, the lion’s share of which was for her injured feelings. No word on whether she was reunited with Nunki Pippin, though the EAT did consider that had The Met confirmed the officer would be reunited with her dog following her pregnancy, the claim may not have even been brought in the first place.  

If you are dealing with a pregnancy related issue and need some guidance please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation on 0113 350 4030 or samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk

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