Police officer who failed test ‘not discriminated against’

Published: 20 November 2017

Category: News

A police officer who claimed she failed a fitness test because a thyroid condition caused her to gain weight has lost her discrimination claim.

Rebecca Tiffin was a detective constable with Surrey Police. It was a requirement that officers passed an Annual Fitness Assessment involving interval running known as a bleep test.

Ms Tiffin failed the test several times, so she became subject to an "unsatisfactory performance procedure". She went on long term sickness leave in 2013 and returned in 2014. She was given a fitness plan but was still unable to pass the fitness test in 2015.

Ms Tiffin said she felt over scrutinised and had no alternative but to resign. She then brought claims of sex and disability discrimination, disability harassment and said her employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her condition.

The Employment Tribunal ruled against her. It held that Surrey Police had made reasonable adjustments for her and had given her more time to prepare for the tests. One of her colleagues had offered to support her by joining her while she trained for the test, and another had started a running club and invited her to join.

Judge Stephen Vowles found that the bleep test was a reasonable requirement to fulfil a legitimate aim. He said: “There was a real need to ensure that police officers were fit enough to perform their duties safely.”

The judge also found that Ms Tiffin was not forced to resign. “That was her choice and done at least

in part because she had secured alternative employment which suited her. This is not a case which involves a claim for constructive dismissal.”

Please contact Matthew Sigsworth in our Dispute Resolution Team if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.