Case law updates

Prison Officer unfairly dismissed following campaign of victimisation

A tribunal has ruled that a bisexual prison officer who suffered a “campaign of direct discrimination and harassment” was unfairly dismissed. Ben Plaistow, who worked at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes from 2014 to 2016, had been slapped, squirted with water, had his bag coloured pink and had fingernails dug into his face by colleagues over the course of a number of months.

The tribunal took the view that Plaistow was victimised for raising concerns about his treatment and was unfairly dismissed because of his complaints rather than any alleged misconduct.

An internal grievance in October 2015 was not investigated, and complaints in March 2016 to the HR director and chief executive of the National Offenders Management Service also went unheeded.

In December 2015, a complaint was made that Plaistow had assaulted a prisoner. After an investigation described by the Tribunal as “no more than perfunctory” he was dismissed for gross misconduct in August 2016.

Summarising the decision the tribunal said that “the claimant suffered a campaign of direct discrimination and harassment on the basis of his sexuality or perceived sexuality …He was subjected to detriment for having made protected disclosures and victimised having made protected acts. He was unfairly dismissed and his dismissal was an act of victimisation.”