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Police officer teased with 'Dolly Parton' jibe for working 9-5 hours sues his own force
19 May 2022, 14:43
A police officer has sued his force for sexual harassment after his colleagues whistled Dolly Parton's '9-5' and printed out a photo of the country singer's face because he worked nine to five hours.
Merseyside police officer Stephen Knox was awarded over £12,000 after he won claims of victimisation and disability harassment.
One colleague - named as PC Rylands - is said to have repeatedly called him 'Dolly Parton' as he only worked nine to five.
The Liverpool Employment Tribunal heard PC Knox was teased by PC Rylands between November 2016 and January 2017 when the pair - who were friends - were based at Speke Police Station in Liverpool.
Knox complained after a colleague whistled the hit song at him in the station, printed out A4-headshots of the country singer and placed them on Knox's computer and desk.
The long-serving Merseyside police officer of 15 years had changed his hours to suit his "childcare needs" and to care for his disabled mother following the death of his father, but was met with a response from his colleagues.
Knox said he was "bullied by Merseyside Police and humiliated due to wanting to work on a fixed rota so that he could act as a carer to his mother and participate in the lives of his young children".
He also later said the treatment had amounted to sex harassment, with proceedings ongoing for the last four years.
But, his claim for sex harassment for the Dolly Parton incident was discarded by the tribunal as he submitted it too late, or without merit.
The father-of-four also filed separate charges for victimisation and disability harassment - which he later won over £12,000 in compensation.
He argued he should be awarded a total of £231,000.
In November 2016, Knox was told his application to transfer to Huyton Police Station, Merseyside and work on a 9-5 rota had been approved.
In January 2017, Knox said his mental health plummeted, and a month later was signed off on a prolonged sick leave. He was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
In October 2017, he received an "intimidating" email threatening him with disciplinary procedures if he didn't return to work.
The court ruled he was the victim of disability harassment after being made to "feel fearful for the future of his employment and severely distressed".
Merseyside Police accepted PC Rylands behaved incorrectly, but PC Rylands denied nicknaming his colleague "Dolly Parton".
Dolly Parton, 76, wrote the famous song for the 1980 comedy film of the same name and was later released as a single that year.
The tribunal report said: "It struck [PC Rylands] as remarkable that PC Knox had been able to secure a nine to five shift pattern within the Target Team.
"PC Rylands started teasing PC Knox good-naturedly, by making references to the famous Dolly Parton song, '9 To 5'.
It added: "He whistled the song in PC Knox's presence and printed a picture of Dolly Parton to which he added the words 'nine to five' and placed it on his workstation."
The court heard that the two started as friends on the force.
"Initially, at least, PC Knox accepted PC Rylands' jokes as well-intentioned 'banter'. PC Knox never directly challenged PC Rylands about his behaviour.
"At the very highest, PC Knox’s evidence is that he would leave the room or not enter it if PC Rylands was there."