Police dogs and pregnancy

In Metropolitan Police v Keohane, the EAT held that it was discriminatory for a police dog handler to have her dog removed from her when she was no longer operational due to pregnancy.

PC Keohane filed a claim of direct discrimination with the Employment Tribunal under section 18 of the Equality Act 2010, which protects women against unfavourable treatment because of their pregnancy or maternity.

The EAT held that the removal of the dog, called Nunki Pippin, produced a risk of an impact on the claimant’s career progression and loss of overtime on the claimant’s return and was therefore considered unfavourable treatment.

Whilst the need for the Police to keep a search dog operational might have been the prime reason for the removal of Nunki that did not mean that the claimant’s pregnancy or maternity leave was not the cause of it. The EAT restated that under that under section 18, a woman’s pregnancy or maternity leave does not have to be the sole or main reason for the unfavourable treatment.  A woman’s pregnancy or maternity leave only needs to materially influence the employer’s decision-making for the unfavourable treatment to be considered discriminatory.
Chris Bains