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Requirement to pass annual fitness test not discriminatory

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The Employment Tribunal has recently heard a case (Mrs R Tiffin –v- Chief Constable of Surrey) brought by a police officer who resigned having repeatedly failed a fitness test. Ms Tiffin stated she had an underactive thyroid gland which was the cause of her weight gain in addition to a history of depression, stress and anxiety.

Tiffin issued claims for both disability and sex discrimination claiming that she was “over-scrutinised” having failed her annual fitness assessment. Surrey Police conceded that Tiffin was a disabled person by reason of depression and hypothyroidism. The material dates of her disabilities and the Police’s knowledge of her disabilities were in dispute.

The Tribunal found that she was not forced to resign or subjected to discrimination as “there was a real need to ensure that police officers were fit enough to perform their duties safely”. The requirement to pass the annual fitness assessment applied in the first instance to all operational officers within Surrey Police and was a necessary requirement for safety and operational reasons nationally.

It was found that reasonable adjustments had been made including allowing longer meal breaks in order to make use of the gym and being given a fitness plan in 2015 in order to assist her in passing the fitness test. The Tribunal stated her resignation was her choice and partly done as she had secured alternative employment.

The Tribunal dismissed Tiffin’s claims against Surrey police.

Whilst Tiffin was not successful, each case will be dependent on the individual facts and situation. If you are an employee or employer and require advice in relation to discrimination then please contact a member of the employment team.

This article is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.