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Police discriminated against white heterosexual male, tribunal finds

Lydia Smith February 25, 2019

Matthew Furlong applied to join the Cheshire Police in 2017 (Matthew Furlong/Facebook)

A police officer reject was discriminated against in his application because he is male, white and heterosexual, a tribunal has found.

Matthew Furlong, 25, applied to join the Cheshire Police in 2017 but lost out to other candidates, despite being told in the interview that “it was refreshing to meet someone as well prepared as yourself,” BBC News reported.

His father, a detective inspector in the force, filed a complaint.

An employment tribunal found Furlong had been discriminated against on the basis of his sexual orientation, race and sex.

The judgement came to the conclusion the force had unlawfully treated people from underrepresented groups more favourably in its recruitment process.

Employment lawyer Jennifer Ainscough said: “Matthew was denied his dream job simply because he was a white, heterosexual male.

“This is the first reported case of its kind in the UK where positive action has been used in a discriminatory way.”

Matthew Furlong’s application to the Cheshire Police was rejected (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The tribunal ruled that while positive action can be used to boost diversity, it should only be applied to distinguish between candidates who were all equally qualified for a role.

The force’s claim it had seen 127 candidates who were equally suitable for the role of police constable was a “fallacy”, the tribunal found.

It added that imposing such an artificially low threshold – assigning candidates a pass or fail rather than any kind of score – was not an adequate response to the force’s lack of diversity.

In 2015, the Cheshire Police was among a number of forces criticised for having no black officers.

It has since taken steps to improve diversity and opportunities for those with protected characteristics relating to BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) gender, sexual orientation and disability.

The case has been adjourned until later this year to determine the amount of compensation to be awarded.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: “We have been notified of the outcome of the tribunal and will review the findings over the coming days.”

More: Discrimination, police, UK

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