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Royal Air Force nurse wins employment tribunal

A Royal Air Force nurse who lost out on a promotion to a male doctor has won a sex discrimination case against the Ministry of Defence.

An employment tribunal ruled in favour of Group Captain Wendy Williams stating she should have been the preferred candidate but wasn’t selected because she was a woman.

The 54-year-old, from Cambridge, a registered nurse and midwife who joined the RAF in 1984, applied for the role of commodore of the Defence Medical Group, having been a group captain in 2003.

But the job went to Group Captain John Gaffney, who had three-and-a-half years less service in that rank than Gp Capt Williams.

Employment judge Veronica Dean, ruled that Gp Capt Williams should have been considered as the RAF’s “properly preferred candidate”.

The tribunal said the MoD’s rationale for giving the role to Gp Capt Gaffney was “entirely subjective and unsustainable” and concluded that Gp Capt Williams “was not selected because of her sex”.

Gp Capt Williams, believes the ruling should open the door for further scrutiny of promotions within the armed forces.

She said: “I hope that nurses in the Royal Air Force and the wider armed forces will have the opportunity to aspire to, and attain, more senior posts.

“I hope that nurses will also gain due recognition for their leadership, commitment and professionalism.

“This judgment represents an opportunity for the armed forces to scrutinise internal processes and practices and shatter glass ceilings.”

The Royal College of Nursing, who supported Gp Capt Williams during the case, said: “It isn’t right for female staff to be placed at a disadvantage when they get to a senior level.”

An RAF spokesman said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the tribunal and will now consider the judgement in full.

“The RAF is fully committed to the Equality Act 2010 and has consistently received extensive recognition for its work on gender equality and in promoting career opportunities for women.”

If you have suffered discrimination in the workplace call one of the Employment Law specialists at PM Law in Sheffield on 0114 296 5444.

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