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Soldier awarded £17,000 for sex and race discrimination

16 April 2010

Tilern DeBique, a 28 year-old soldier and mother of a four-year-old girl, has won £17,000 compensation for sex and race discrimination from the Ministry of Defence at The Central London Employment Tribunal.

DeBique, a Commonwealth soldier from St Vincent, was disciplined after failing to appear on parade because she wanted to look after her sick daughter.

She was apparently told that the Army was unsuitable for a single mother who could not sort out her child care arrangements.

DeBique’s child was initially cared for by her family in St Vincent before she was brought to the UK. DeBique said she was told by the Army that immigration rules prevented her bringing over a relative to look after the child.

The employment tribunal criticised the Army for failing to help with childcare arrangements.

It found that DeBique had been treated badly when compared with women soldiers who were not Foreign and Commonwealth personnel.

The tribunal argued that the MoD could have liased with the UK Border Agency to relax immigration controls and allow DeBique’s half-sister to come to the country and look after the child.

DeBique, who lived in family accommodation at Chelsea Barracks, joined up in 2001 and was allowed to work restricted hours after the birth of her daughter in 2005. The MoD said it had also offered her a different job, but instead she left, in 2008.

An MoD spokesman said: “The armed forces aim to achieve a working environment free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination.

“Serving personnel who are parents are responsible for ensuring they have childcare arrangements in place so that they can fulfil all of their Army duties.

“Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens have access to the same levels of Army welfare support as their British counterparts.”

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Discrimination Expert witness Professional negligence