Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:09 Mar 2016 Last Updated:23 Nov 2021

A dog is for pregnancy…

Employment Law Advice

Removal of a police dog from a pregnant dog handler equals direct discrimination found the employment appeal tribunal in a recent case. The case involved a pregnant dog handler who handled 2 narcotic dogs. The dog handler told the police that she was pregnant and one of the dogs (Nunki Pippin) was reallocated. The removal of Nunki Pippin would have impacted on the dog handler’s career progression and may have led to a loss of overtime when she returned to work after maternity leave.

The employment appeal tribunal found that this was a detriment and that the dog handler’s pregnancy was a factor in the decision making progress to remove the dog. The decision was therefore discriminatory.

Interestingly the tribunal found that while the main reason for the removal of the dog may have been the police’s need to keep the dog operational, this did not mean that the pregnancy was not a factor in the decision making process. This shows that bad treatment does not need to be caused only by a discriminatory motive but that it is enough that the protected characteristic (for example sex, age, pregnancy) was a significant and material influence on the decision. For the full decision in this case please follow this link.

In order to avoid costly discrimination claims I advise that you have in place up to date employee policies for example Equal Opportunities. If you have had an issue with discrimination or would like me to conduct a free health check of your staff handbook please contact me on 01202 636210 or kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk.