Police officer suffered sex discrimination over colour blindness

A police officer faced indirect sex discrimination after being removed from driving duties due to colour blindness, the Employment Tribunal has ruled.

Alexander Wisbey joined the police in 1993, and throughout his career he worked in several uniformed positions. He later became an authorised firearms officer and part of the rapid response driving team.

In 2016, a police occupational health adviser discovered he had a condition that meant he struggled to differentiate between red and green objects. This condition affects around 5% of men, but only 0.35% of women.

He was told he must pass one of two additional tests for colour vision deficiency.

He passed one test but not the other. In March 2017, the police issued new guidance around eyesight standards for colour deficiency, and Wisbey was taken off the firearms team.

He was also removed from the rapid response driving team, despite there being no investigation into how his condition affected his ability to complete his duties in the role.

He took legal action against the service, claiming he was a victim of sex discrimination as his condition was more likely to affect men than women.

In the meantime, a meeting between senior officers resulted in Wisbey being returned to firearms duties after his tests showed he met the current standard for the team.

He spent time retraining and underwent more medical examinations and was returned to both teams.

The London Employment Tribunal ruled he had been indirectly discriminated against when he was temporarily taken off the rapid response driving team but not the firearms team.

While there had been a sufficient level of investigation into how his condition would affect his ability to carry out his firearms duties, this had not been the case for his rapid response duties.

He was not awarded compensation as he had been reinstated on to both teams.

Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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