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MOD v DeBique - Rigid application of immigration rules to foreign soldier was indirect sex and race discrimination [2009] EAT

This case is quite fact-specific but it shows how indirect sex and race discrimination can be combined.   The EAT upheld an employment tribunal's conclusion that  the application of immigration rules to a soldier from St Vincent, who was a single mother,  in conjunction with a requirement to be available 24/7 (which was in itself justified),  was indirect sex and race discrimination since it prevented her securing childcare and so forced her to leave the Army.

Ms DeBique, who came from St Vincent, joined the Army in 2000. In 2005 she was posted to a unit in London but was by now pregnant. She took her maternity leave and returned in 2006, bringing her daughter to the UK. The Army provided service accommodation, and arranged that she would work 8.30 to 4.30 Monday to Friday only. The arrangements seemed to work, but her failure to work weekends etc was noted. Due to childcare issues she missed part of a course, and was late on parade one day which resulted in a sanction of two night duties - which as a single mother she could not do.

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