Highest-Ranking Nurse in the Royal Air Force Wins Sexual Discrimination Lawsuit
12:30 pm, June 27th | by Grace Rasmus
After losing out on a promotion in favor of a male doctor in July 2011, Group Captain Wendy Williams, the highest ranking nurse in the British Royal Air Force, won her sexual discrimination case against the Ministry of Defense (MoD), BBC reports.
With eights years of serving as Group Captain under her belt, Williams had applied to be made the RAF candidate for the tri-service role of commodore of the Defense Medical Group. The RAF instead promoted Group Captain John Gaffney, who had three-and-a-half fewer years of experience than Williams did in the same role.
The tribunal ruled that Williams should have been the preferred candidate for the role but was passed over because she was a woman.
The MoD argued that while both were suitable candidates, Gaffney was more likely to succeed against candidates from other parts of the armed forces and was selected for that reason. The tribunal was also informed that the RAF tends to fill one-star medical roles, which are theoretically open to both nurses and doctors, only with doctors.
The tribunal ruled that Williams was not only equal to Gaffney, but that she should have been considered the “properly preferred candidate.” They called MoD’s rational for promoting Gaffney over Williams “entirely subjective and unsustainable” and concluded that Williams “was not selected because of her sex.”
The tribunal also criticized the RAF’s favoring of doctors over nurses and the fact that only 1 to 1.3 percent of top-rank positions are held by women.
“This judgement represents an opportunity for the armed forces to scrutinize internal processes and practices and shatter glass ceilings,” Williams said after the ruling. “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.”