A British man who was turned down for a job in the police force for being white, male and straight has said that he thinks many other men have had similar experiences, according to the Independent.
An employment tribunal recently found that Cheshire police were guilty of discrimination on grounds of race and gender against 25-year-old particle physics graduate, Matthew Furlong. Mr. Furlong, it was widely reported, found out that his application to become a constable in 2017 was shot down because the force wanted to increase "diversity among its police officers."
"I am not the only person who has been affected by this. There are many other white heterosexual males who undoubtedly left the whole interview process with the impression that they weren't good enough when in fact many were. In addition, I worry for the candidates who have been appointed as they may question whether they were appointed based on merit or whether they simply had a particular protected characteristic," the Independent quotes him as saying.
— Stanley Collymore (@DerAkademiker) 23 February 2019
"Had I lied on my interview form and said I was bisexual, for instance, there's a strong possibility I would be working for Cheshire Police now based on a lie," he added.
Mr Furlong attended his interview with the Cheshire Police and was told by his recruiters that he'd done everything that was necessary as part of the application process to a high standard. Then he was reportedly told out of the blue that there were not enough positions for all 127 people who had passed the interviewing process. Furlong's father, who has been a policeman in the same force for 20 years, subsequently filed a complaint.
Once the case was taken to the courts, an employment tribunal in Liverpool ruled that the Cheshire force had unjustly used ‘positive action' — the practice of favouring individuals belonging to groups perceived as being historically discriminated against, such as black, gay and disabled people.
— Anthony Larme (@AnthonyLarme) 24 February 2019
— Brian Brown (@drbrianbrown) 23 February 2019
The tribunal ruled that Furlong had been the victim of direct discrimination and argued that while positive action can be used to increase diversity, it should only be utilised in cases where candidates are equally qualified for a role.
Mr Furlong's lawyer, Jennifer Ainscough, is quoted by the BBC is saying that, "Matthew was denied his dream job simply because he was a white, heterosexual male. This is the first reported case of its kind in the UK where positive action has been used in a discriminatory way."
Cheshire Police was one of many police forces criticised back in 2015 by then-Home Secretary, Theresa May, for not having a sufficient number of black police officers. Since then, like others, it has allegedly intensified efforts to recruit people from minority communities.
A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "We have been notified of the outcome of the tribunal and will review the findings over the coming days."