Senior female armed police officer wins £30,000 payout after being made to strip to her underwear and told ‘just because you have t**s does not mean you can’t do a press-up’
A senior female firearms officer has won £30,000 in a sex discrimination and harassment case after being stripped down to her underwear during a police training course.
Detective Inspector Rebecca Kalam was told ‘just because you have t*** does not mean you cannot do a press up’, and forced to pose for a photoshoot when five months pregnant, an employment tribunal heard.
She was also lined up to be the ‘poster girl’ for the West Midlands Police firearms unit she worked at and told she would not pass the training course ‘if she did not agree to it’.
DI Kalam – who was one of only seven women in a unit with 250 men – complained about a ‘toxic and discriminatory’ culture in her unit.
The 40-year-old said she had been left feeling ‘extremely uncomfortable’ by her male colleagues who also drew male genitalia on notice boards around the station.
Detective Inspector Rebecca Kalam was told ‘just because you have t*** does not mean you cannot do a press up’, and forced to pose for a photoshoot when five months pregnant
DI Kalam – who has been medically retired as a result of the ordeal – successfully sued West Midlands Police at an employment tribunal.
The officer, whose husband is a Detective Sergeant with the force, was originally seeking £1.2 million in compensation.
But the panel dismissed her claim for ‘aggravated’ damages and instead awarded her £30,000 after finding the force liable for her claims of sex discrimination and harassment.
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The Birmingham tribunal found DI Kalam would have made the rank of Superintendent if it were not for the mistreatment.
In March 2012 she was required to act as a ‘stooge’ in a mock training exercise, had her clothes cut off and was ‘stripped down to her underwear’ so first aid could be given.
The tribunal heard the scenario was based on a bullet hole on the top of the left breast which officers would then have to treat – which left her feeling ‘extremely uncomfortable’.
Later that month, while doing press ups, a male trainer pushed her neck down with his foot and said ‘just because you have t*** does not mean you cannot do a press up’.
The tribunal heard DI Kalam wasn’t given an easy trigger hand-gun like male officers and was told to wear a compression bra in order to fit into the body armour she was given, which was designed for men.
Employment Judge Christopher Camp ruled West Midlands Police were guilty of sex discrimination by not ordering PPE including body armour specifically for her – ‘irrespective of when male body armour was being ordered’.
He said the force had harassed her related to her sex by making her the ‘poster girl’ and ensuring she acted as the ‘stooge’ in the exercise where she was stripped to her underwear.
The tribunal also found DI Kalam had been victimised by not allowing to attend assessment days and by delaying her transfer to a different unit.
DI Kalam – who has been medically retired as a result of the ordeal – successfully sued West Midlands Police at an employment tribunal and has now received a £30,000 payout
In a judgement published yesterday(Thurs), Judge Camp said the ‘ambitious’ former officer was made so unwell she ‘has been rendered unable to work for the police again for the foreseeable future.’
He said a significant psychiatric injury which developed in February 2021 remains a ‘relatively severe’ disorder today.
Regarding her overall claim for compensation, the judge said: ‘Objectively, much of the admitted harassment and so on that [DI Kalam] suffered during the 2010s is very serious.
‘However, there is scant evidence before us that (she) was, prior to her return from maternity leave in 2020, significantly affected by any of it other than relatively briefly, at the time.
‘The experts agree that there was no psychiatric injury prior to the end of 2020 at the very earliest. The overwhelming majority of loss and damage – including injury to feelings – being claimed in these proceedings was clearly suffered because of what occurred from December 2020 onwards.
‘Our focus is therefore on those events.’
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