A former Detective Superintendent from Devon, who was commended seven times during her 32-year-long career with the Metropolitan Police force, has won a case of victimisation against her former employer with the help of legal representation from the specialist employment team at Stephens Scown LLP.
A London employment tribunal has agreed with the claimant, Paige Kimberley, that the WhatsApp group set up to discuss work issues, was in fact used to share messages that were: “sexualised, derogatory towards women, offensive and completely inappropriate for any workplace,” and that withdrawing a job offer after she had raised the issue with her line manager had amounted to “victimisation”.
Representing Ms Kimberley in the case against the Metropolitan Police, Terry Falcão said: “This was an important case for Paige as she acted on good faith and with the best motivation to disclose misogynistic and unacceptable sexual conduct from contractors working with a police officer and Met Police staff. This was a protected act.
“The tribunal accepted her version of events, that she disclosed this conduct to a senior manager in the digital policing unit, which resulted in the withdrawal of an offer to earn a significant sum of money.”
Having joined the Metropolitan Police in 1981, as soon as she was old enough to do so, Ms Kimberley enjoyed a long and respected career in the Metropolitan Police, rising to the rank of Detective Superintendent and gaining an impressive range of experience until her retirement in 2013, from spells as a Rape Investigator to investigating crime in public order across London, such as the Presidential visit of Barrack Obama to the UK, and some of the operations in relation to the 2012 Olympics.
In 2018-19 Ms Kimberley returned to work as a contractor for the Police, assisting in the rollout of laptops and tablets to operational police officers, with her credibility and track record proving very useful in persuading and bringing people on board. Following a period away due to family illness, she was invited back to the force at the end of September 2019 as a contractor.
She had remained on the group WhatsApp during the seven months of her absence and was disturbed to see that it had turned from being almost exclusively work-related to exchanging a large amount of misogynistic, sexist and sometimes sexually explicit material. After disclosing to her manager that if she were to come back she would have to address this WhatsApp group and because it contained sexually explicit material it would have to be sorted out, she was then told there was no longer a job available to her.
Mr Falcão continues: “This is an extremely important case in terms of women being employed in the Metropolitan Police, disclosing the poor practises in a large police force, including a complete and abject failure to investigate her allegations when they pulled the job offer from her after she reported the wrongdoing.
“Amongst the people she alerted to the wrongdoing were Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, and Assistant Commissioner, Helen Ball. Both those senior officers failed to take responsibility in stopping the misogynistic exchanges of inappropriate material at work.”
Mr Falcão adds: “Paige is delighted with the result of the tribunal and we now await a remedy hearing, to award compensation for her losses and her injuries to feelings. It is a shame that individuals who try to do the right thing are then forced to incur substantial fees to be heard and uphold principles that are important to us all”.
Mr Falcão was chosen by Ms Kimberley to represent her in this matter on the basis of his previous police service and expertise in employment law as well as the firm’s expertise in Employment law. He concludes: “Although very topical for reviewing practises within the Metropolitan Police, I believe this ruling will also have a wider impact, as we see more employers using agencies to hire contractors so that there is a barrier between them and the contractor. The ruling in this case proves that organisations and businesses are still held to account over issues relating to the rights of women, and indeed men, not to be subjected to such sexist attitudes.”