Deaf Police Officer Discriminated Against

| General


In late December 2022, the Employment Tribunal sitting in the City of London handed down its judgment in which it found that the Metropolitan Police had neglected its legal duty to provide adjustments of a reasonable nature to an upcoming police officer who was afflicted by hearing problems.   

What Happened In The Case?

The trainee submitted his application for his role in mid-September 2014 and had completed the medical paperwork in March 2015. Around twenty weeks later he had a test on his hearing. When the independent expert assessed the results of the test, it found that the trainee’s hearing would not affect his performace as a Metropolitan Police Officer. In late November 2015, the Officer started the job on a probationary period.     

Turning Point?

In February 2026 the matter deteriorated when the trainee underwent some outdoor training. He reportedly had some difficulties listening to instructions being communicated to him. He claimed the audio equipment was making an echoey sound which resulted in him not being able to hear it properly. He was re-assigned to a non-operational role in March 2016 due to concerns over his ability to carry out his position. In early April 2016, the force’s Ear Nose and Throat specialist assessed the trainee as having trouble hearing in windy weather and when traffic was present.   

However, in September 2016 Occupational Health assessed the trainee as competent to carry out his duties despite having audio acuity difficulties. In the new year of 2018, Occupational Health suggested accommodating the trainee with reasonable adjustments, including requesting for the Claimant to contribute to approximately thirty percent of the hearing assistance devices price.  

What Did The Employment Tribunals say? 

The Employment Tribunal assessed the evidence and found that the trainee had been treated less favorably by the decision to put him into a separate role from his constable job for approximately forty-eight months as he would be de-skilled and would lose the experience he had accrued. This absence would make it more difficult for him to competently carry out the activities required for the role. The Employment Tribunal commented that the request by the employer for the trainee to contribute to the price of support equipment transpired to be unsuitable for the police constable role and meant that the Metropolitan Police had failed in its duty to provide adjustments of a reasonable nature. This was taken particularly seriously by the Tribunal as such adjustments had been suggested by both professionals from audiology and Occupational Health.  

 Way Forward?

In light of this case, those businesses who are charged with employing staff who are afflicted by audio acuity problems should consider putting reasonable adjustments including but not limited to: 

  • adjusting the layout of rooms 
  • using good lighting to help the person with hearing loss see everybody clearly - this is especially important for persons attempting to lipread 
  • modifying a job to take the needs of a person with hearing loss into account.
  • ensuring phones amplify sound or headset work with hearing aids.
  • provide the appropriate equipment
  • allowing persons afflicted by deafness to communicate by an instant form such as email or text message rather than phone 
  • removing background noise from the working environment as it can put communication barriers in the way
  • permitting the affected person to carry out their job function in a less noisy environment and
  • Let the person affected take a leadership position over their role, present options as to the next steps on their preferred position to carry out their work duties, and make decisions as to preferences. 

ASSESSING FIRMS

#Allen&Overy #BakerMcKenzie #HerbertSmithFreehillsLLP #LewisSilkin #MishcondeReya #Simmons&Simmons #AddleshawGoddard #CliffordChanceLLP #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #EvershedsSutherlandLLP #LinklatersLLP #TaylorWessing #TraversSmith #Bird&Bird 

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Webber, Ashleigh – Met Police discrimination against an officer with hearing loss, tribunal finds – Personnel Today –  13 January 2023 - Met Police discriminated against an officer with hearing loss, tribunal finds - Personnel Today

[SOURCE 2] Mr. S Karim v The Commissioner of Police Of The Metropolis – Case Number 1107504/2021 – Central London Employment Tribunal -  Mr_S_Karim__vs_The_Commissioner_of_Police_of_the_Metropolis.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)

[SOURCE 3] Equality Act 2010

[SOURCE 4] Police Regulations 2003  

[SOURCE 5] National Deaf Children’s Society – Reasonable adjustments in the workplace - Reasonable adjustments in the workplace | Deaf-friendly workplace (ndcs.org.uk)

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