Single mother soldier who wanted £1.1m childcare discrimination payout from MoD wins just £17,000

Tilern DeBique has been awarded a £17,000 payout from the MoD

A single mother soldier who was seeking a £1.1million payout from the Ministry of Defence after winning a sex and race discrimination claim was awarded just £17,016 today.

Tilern DeBique, 28, had asked for the massive compensation after arguing she was forced to choose between a military career and caring for her daughter, Tahlia, now four.

Panel chairman Jeremy Gordon said the former corporal, originally from the Caribbean island of St Vincent, was not treated 'on a level playing field' with other soldiers.

She won her landmark employment tribunal case earlier this year, and also won a claim of race discrimination because Army chiefs did not let her bring her half-sister from the Caribbean, where Miss DeBique was recruited, to look after her child.

She was hoping for a £1,142,257 payout, including £473,535 for loss of earnings, £325,160 for loss of Army benefits, £315,562 for loss of pension rights, £18,000 for 'hurt feelings' and £10,000 in aggravated damages.

An earlier hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal was told that Ms DeBique was disciplined by the Army after missing a military parade to care for her daughter.

The panel heard she was told by a senior officer that the British Army was 'a war-fighting machine unsuitable for a single mother who couldn't sort out her childcare arrangements'.

She left the Army in April 2008, after submitting her resignation a year earlier.

Mr Gordon said the fact that immigration rules prevented her half-sister from moving to the UK permanently to help with childcare was discriminatory.

He said: 'The net result was, as the complainant put it, she was not on a level playing field with soldiers with family in the UK.'

He told the hearing that, if an exception had been made, her career could have continued.

He said: 'We found that such an exception would have put foreign and Commonwealth soldiers, and particularly the complainant, on a level playing field with soldiers with families who have the right of abode in the UK.'

Ms DeBique covers her face as she arrives at the Central Employment Tribunal Court today

Mr Gordon said the prospect of leaving the Services had taken its toll on Ms DeBique.

He said: 'We heard from more than one witness how she seemed to withdraw into herself and was tearful at meetings.'

Ms DeBique had to see a psychiatrist at one point and was prescribed  anti-depressants, the hearing was told.

Mr Gordon said: 'To the complainant, it appeared from the way she was being dealt with that the Army no longer wanted her in service.'

But he criticised her for refusing a posting to her regiment's base in Blandford, Dorset, saying it was 'a mistake'.

The hearing was told the base had a school and better childcare arrangements than Chelsea Barracks where she had been based, but she had still turned it down.

He said: 'She had lost faith in the Army and also lost hope in the system.'

He also said she had not done enough to find a new job since returning to civilian life and did not award her compensation for loss of earnings.

Earlier, the tribunal was told that Ms DeBique, who joined 10 Signal Regiment in March 2001, had expressed interest in other military positions, including two in Afghanistan, before leaving the Army.

The tribunal was told Ms DeBique had worked in temporary jobs after leaving the Army but was currently unemployed and had fallen behind on her £80-a-week rent for a room in shared accommodation.

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