An Australian Federal Police officer has lost her discrimination claim after the force repeatedly denied her transfer requests to the same city as her same-sex partner.
Detective Sergeant Kathryn Richens and Senior Constable Emma-Kate McPherson began a relationship in 2013 while based in Canberra and Brisbane.
“As a gay female in the AFP I have felt completely unsupported and that the AFP Values in employment do not apply to my family unit, partner, and career,” Richens told the court.
She said she believed the situation had “damaged my confidence, self-esteem, resilience, reputation, depleted my ability to overcome and cope with normal setbacks by persistently treating me differently because l made a complaint.”
In a 2013 letter, they said they were informed that their “circumstances are not comparative to the co-location of heterosexuals who meet genuine compassionate reasons” and that their living apart was “not the AFP’s problem”.
Richens also claimed that she was denied a transfer to the counter-terrorism unit because she had submitted a complaint about the transfer denials to the Fair Work Commission.
But in throwing out the case, in which Richens sought over $800,000 in damages, Federal Court Justice Debra Mortimer found that the couple were not able to produce evidence of these claims.
Justice Mortimer noted that there was “something approaching a stubbornness” on the part of the AFP to “not to appoint DS Richens to any of the positions for which she applied, or expressed interest, or might otherwise have been suitable”.
“In an organisation the size of the AFP, I do not accept that was an impossible or unreasonable task,” Mortimer said.
“There appears to be have been a rigidity, and a lack of understanding and compassion, at work.
“These matters do not reflect well on the AFP as an employer.”
Last year, the Industrial Relations Commission ordered the reinstatement of a gay police officer who sued NSW Police for discrimination alongside four others claiming they were targeted for their sexuality by an internal investigation.