Overweight detective who took 76 sick days a year wins payout for hurt feelings

·3-min read
An overweight detective from Devon and Cornwall police force was given a £10,000 payout on grounds of discrimination
An overweight detective from Devon and Cornwall police force was given a £10,000 payout on grounds of discrimination

An overweight detective who took 76 sick days a year has won a payout after her bosses told her to stop drinking “gallons of Coca-Cola” to improve her diet.

Detective Constable Kerry Moth, who said she felt humiliated after being told to take more responsibility over her diet by a higher ranked officer, was awarded £10,000 compensation on Monday.

An employment tribunal ruled she had been discriminated against on the grounds of disability.

The tribunal in Exeter, Devon, heard that Det Sgt Daryl Marvelly said if colleagues saw she was making an effort to lose weight, they would have more respect for her.

DC Moth, who joined Devon and Cornwall police in 2003, suffers from fibromyalgia.

The tribunal was told by Mark Ley-Morgan, a lawyer representing the police force, that on average she had 76 days sickness a year for 10 years.

He said the force was not an uncaring organisation and had made a lot of adjustments for the officer who was “a very useful member of the organisation”.

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Officer not fit enough to take fitness test or safety training

In July 2018, over lunch at Barnstaple police station, DC Moth told Sgt Marvelly that she was “fed up” with people assuming her weight contributed to her condition.

The tribunal was told the 46-year-old officer was not fit enough to undergo a fitness test and could not undergo officer safety training.

Det Sgt Marvelly reportedly said that he thought losing weight might take the “strain off her body”.

DC Moth said her weight was not a result of her diet but due to the medication she had to take for her chronic condition.

While Det Sgt Marvelly said he did not dispute that, he claimed he saw her regularly drink “gallons of Coca-Cola”.

DC Moth said she only drank zero calorie and decaffeinated coke.

Alastair Smail, the employment tribunal judge, said Det Sgt Marvelly was not acting in bad faith but the conversations “did have the effect of humiliating her”.

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Comments indicated 'unprofessional tone' and 'harrassment'

He said the reference to her drinking gallons of Coca-Cola indicated an unprofessional tone and concluded DC Moth was “harassed” by his comments.

Yesterday DC Moth, who still works for the force, broke down in tears as she said: "I just want to do my job."

She said she was not able to do fitness tests but said one day she aspired to be promoted to a sergeant.

Judge Alastair Smail said £10,000 compensation was for injury to feelings.

He also made a series of recommendations so the officer can continue to excel in her duties.

The judge said Det Sgt Marvelly's comments became personal and were not appropriate for the professional relationship between them.

He said DS Marvelly acted in good faith but his comments had an upsetting effect which was unfortunate.

The tribunal heard that in February 2019 Professor John Harrison from the force's Occupational Health department delivered a report on how the illness affected DC Moth's ability to do her job.

He explained that fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that requires people to learn to live with the condition and modify their lifestyle. 

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