A Fire-service Controller Is Awarded £100,000 in Sexual Discrimination Compensation

Sexual discrimination compensation claim

03.04.2007

A fire-service controller had his career ruined by a fellow worker after she made a number of spurious complaints about his conduct.

John Owers, a controller with Devon Fire and Rescue Service was awarded £100,000 in compensation. He was banned from his own control room after Sarah Kelly, a fellow controller made 16 formal complains which were not upheld.

Of the 16 complaints which were made, 10 were rejected as too trivial to investigate. The complaints included that Mr Owers should not have taken a holiday in August 2006 and another that he had failed to attend a colleague's leaving party.

Last year an employment tribunal upheld Mr Owers's claim that he had been the victim of sexual discrimination. He was treated as the wrong doer by his employer, even though Miss Kelly's claims were found to be spurious.

Devon fire brigade insisted that they gave Mr Owers the same support as Miss Kelly when they were investigating the claims.

Miss Kelly, 37, left her job and now lives abroad. Mr Owers made several complaints about the way in which he was being treated, but these complaints were ignored.

Fire service found guilty of sexual discrimination

Mr Owers claimed for loss of earnings and pensions after being forced out of his job. The settlement was approved by John Hollow, the tribunal chairman, who found the fire service guilty of sexual discrimination.

Devon fire brigade agreed an undisclosed settlement of about £100,000 which Mr Owers accepted.

Fergal Dowling, Employment law Partner at Irwin Mitchell said The case demonstrates the need for employers to have a procedure for dealing with complaints by one employee against another in a speedy and affective way. Such procedures need to provide for a proper investigation of the allegations, prompt decisions on whether the complaints have any merit and fair sanctions for complaints that are upheld. In the meantime, a temporary working solution may need to be agreed but never forget that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. As this case shows, mistakes can be costly.

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