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Sex discrimination: Requiring woman to search male inmates discriminatory

This report relates to 1 case(s)

Key points

Home Office v Saunders 7.11.05 UKEAT/0260/05/CK, the EAT holds:

  • In a direct sex discrimination claim under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 the employment tribunal did not err in finding that the correct hypothetical comparator for a female prison officer conducting a rub-down search on a male prisoner was a male prison officer conducting a rub-down search on a female prisoner, although the latter was forbidden by the prison service rules.
  • The female officer claimed that if she were made to conduct rub-down searches of male inmates she would suffer embarrassment and possible distasteful sexual remarks from the inmates that a male officer would not suffer. The employment tribunal was correct to find that requiring a woman to search male inmates was less favourable treatment on grounds of sex.
  • It was direct sex discrimination contrary to s.1(1)(a) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 to require such searches, despite the motive being that it was intended to advance women officers' career prospects if they worked in male prisons.