Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR
for preparing this case summary
Was it a detriment for a police dog handler to have her dog removed from
her when she was no longer operational due to pregnancy?
Yes, held the EAT (Langstaff P presiding) in Metropolitan Police v Keohane
the removal of the dog, called Nunki Pippin, which was apparently
permanent, produced a risk of an impact on career progression and loss
of overtime on the Claimant's return, and so was a detriment. The EAT
noted, as was accepted, that the loss of a dog as a companion would give
rise to an 'unjustified sense of grievance' which could not lead to a
Whilst the Police's need to keep a search dog operational might have
been the major factor in the removal decision, that did not mean that
the Claimant's pregnancy was not a cause of it. The Tribunal's findings
of fact were that the Claimant's pregnancy had been a factor in the
decision, rather than "merely the context within which the circumstances
had arisen". The detriment did not need to be caused solely, or even
mainly, by a discriminatory motive, it was enough that pregnancy was a
significant and material influence on the decision.
The EAT rejected a contention that the use of the words 'because of' in
section 18 of the Equality Act 2010 required a 'narrow' or 'broad'
approach to causation in detriment cases; causation was a finding
'robustly to be made', but it went on to say that if that was wrong, it
would prefer a broad approach, citing the Equal Treatment Directive
2006/54/EC, which uses the term 'related to', broader than 'because of'.
The EAT overturned the employment tribunal's dismissal of an indirect
sex discrimination complaint arising from the dog's removal, noting that
the policy of removing dogs without guaranteeing their return to
handlers would have a differential impact on one gender as a whole, so
it would be indirectly discriminatory, although it may be open to
justification. The Claimant sought no extra monetary compensation for
indirect discrimination and the EAT put a stay on remission pending a
decision on the Police's appeal on the direct discrimination point.