Institutionally Racist? Carol Howard Wins Sex and Race Discrimination Claim


Carol Howard, a former firearms officer in the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG), has been successful in proving at an employment tribunal she was the victim of racial and sexual discrimination by her employers, the Metropolitan Police. As a black, female officer in an organisation described in 1999 as 'institutionally racist', she was subject to unusual and invasive practices orchestrated by her line manager, an acting inspector.

Employment Discrimination Case

Two Campaigns

Ms Carol Howard, 35, was chosen to be photographed as part of a newspaper feature on London’s police officers in the 2012 Games. However her line manager stated that she was not a "good advert" for the DPG, who are responsible for protecting foreign embassies and government buildings. This was the beginning of what we can only describe as a 'campaign' against Ms Howard.

When she was off sick from work, her manager refused to believe her, and sent officers over to her home to investigate what was happening. Aside from the fact that this is not the job of the police, it is incredibly invasive and is certainly not a practice that is applied to the police as a whole.

In another situation, her manager asked other officers to question her as to whether she was sleeping with another officer, simply because he saw them walk into the office together.

Her manager always stated that he was unimpressed with her performance and attendance, and that he was not discriminating against her. However it was said that "every absence" was assumed to be not genuine, and when she applied for an armoured vehicle role, she wasn't supported, as apparently her manager questioned her commitment. This came to a head when he shouted at her and reduced her to tears in front of 3 other officers.

The Truth was Found

What made the case more challenging, but also the employer's actions more deplorable, occured when she made a 'Fairness at Work' (FAW) complaint to her employer. An investigating officer was asked to delete references to discrimination in a report. The tribunal stated that they were concerned that the officer was instructed to delete these references to discrimination, as it may have misled the tribunal into thinking there had been no discrimination found in the FAW complaint, when there had been.

Ms. Howard won her case. The tribunal found that she was the victim of direct discrimination, "singled out and targeted", and it found that her manager "doubted her honesty and her ability" having not put forward any credible basis for forming such a view.

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