A sacked police community support officer has issued a claim for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination after she was sacked in 2010 for a second disciplinary offence.
Ms Rachida Sobhi, 43, was employed by the Metropolitan Police force as a police community support officer in December 2008. Whilst undergoing the vetting process Mr Sobhi was asked whether she had a criminal record and she answered that she did not. However, Ms Sobhi was suffering at the time from dissociative amnesia, a memory disorder characterized by retrospectively reported memory gaps. These gaps involve an inability to recall personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, and the truth was that Ms Sobhi had apparently repressed the memory of receiving a conditional discharge for theft in 1991. Two months after Ms Sobhi started her job as a PCSO she was asked why her fingerprints had registered on a database scan and it came to light that she had a previous criminal record. She was disciplined because of this and received a formal written warning. Ms Sobhi, who was unaware at the time of the questioning of her criminal record, was later sacked in 2010 for receiving a littering fine for throwing a cigarette butt to the ground.
The sacked police community support officer subsequently made claims in the Employment Tribunal for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal, claiming that it was unfair of the Metropolitan Police to fail to remove the written warning from her file after she had been diagnosed with dissociative amnesia and that she had been discriminated against by the police force when she was denied a promotion to the rank of police constable in December 2009 because of the reprimand on her file.
The case came before the Central London Employment Tribunal earlier this month, with a preliminary hearing taking place to determine whether Ms Sobhi’s condition rendered her disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. Ms Sobhi was arguing that she was disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 at the times in question – namely when she was given the reprimand, when she was denied promotion and when she was dismissed in 2010 – while the legal team for the Metropolitan Police argued that she was not in fact disabled at the relevant times.
Employment Judge Sigsworth, sitting at the preliminary hearing, stated that this was a difficult case for him to deal with regarding the definition of disability and that he would be reserving his judgment on the matter until a later date. He did, however, comment that he was “surprised” that Ms Sobhi’s reprimand for failing to disclose the conditional discharge had not been removed from her record.
Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, commented: “This is – as the Judge has already commented on – an extremely complex case of disability discrimination – the Employment Judge’s task will now be to determine whether Ms Sobhi was protected at the relevant times by the Equality Act 2010.”
Redmans are specialist unfair dismissal solicitors and settlement agreement solicitors based in London