Laytons Blog

“Petite” firearms officers made to use guns which were too big succeed in claims of sex discrimination

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An Employment Tribunal has found the Civil Nuclear Constabulary guilty of sex discrimination against two of its female Authorised Firearm Officers.  Victoria Wheatley and Rachael Giles are firearms officers based in two different locations, who complained separately of sex discrimination at regular mandatory test shoots.

The Employment Tribunal held the Constabulary failed to provide suitable equipment for the two officers who were described as ‘petite’, with ‘small hands’.  Both officers struggled with the grip of the Glock 17 pistol and on several occasions requested a smaller pistol with a more suitable grip.  Both also complained of ill-fitting protection equipment and argued the wooden barricades used as a resting place for the firearms were designed  for officers of average male height, therefore offering little support to female officers.   

Failure to accommodate these requests had a negative effect on the female officers’ performance in the test shots. The two officers had regularly raised their concerns, but their concerns were dismissed. The Tribunal held that the failure to take steps to prevent female officers from being disadvantaged could not be objectively justified and was therefore indirectly discriminatory.

It is anticipated that the Civil Nuclear Constabulary will appeal the decision.

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