The employee in A v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police argued that she had been subject to sexual harassment by her supervising sergeant over a period of 18 months and that, when she complained, she was victimised in terms of the way her complaint was dealt with.
The facts found by the Employment Tribunal were that there had been "a two way genuine mutual bond" but the relationship had turned sour over its last two days, during which there had been conduct falling within the definition of harassment. The police force had looked into the matter and given the sergeant a written warning for inappropriate conduct.
The complainant's victimisation claim argued that her complaint to a senior officer after those two days had been a "protected act" for which she had been victimised. Her contention was that the complaint had not been taken sufficiently seriously, and that the reason for that was because it was a complaint of sexual harassment.
The Employment Tribunal and EAT rejected the victimisation complaint. The EAT pointed out that, whilst the victimisation provisions have the effect of putting complainants in a "protective bubble", with the result that the employer's response must not involve treating the person adversely, it does not confer a privilege in terms of dictating a particular outcome for the grievance or requiring that it must be dealt with in a different way from other complaints.
If the employer in this case had done nothing to investigate the allegations, and the complainant had suffered as a result, the position might have been different. But the EAT admitted that in this case it was difficult to see how a failure to hear a complaint fully could be seen to be as a result of simply making the complaint. Accordingly the failure did not amount to victimisation.