Scotland's police force has lost its appeal in a case involving a woman who was rejected for a job because she was taking antidepressants.

Police Scotland could also now be facing a raft of other legal cases because of policies described as "outdated" by its own occupational health team.

Laura Mackenzie sailed through the recruitment process to become a police officer but the offer was later rescinded after she disclosed she was taking medication for post-natal depression.

Police Scotland's occupational health provider said a policy of two years free of the medication was in place.

The Inverness woman, who is now training to be a nurse, is suing the force for discrimination.

The Herald: Laura Mackenzie

Despite being outside the usual three-month time limit for making a complaint, Judge Russell Bradley ruled that an employment tribunal could hear Ms Mackenzie's case.

Police Scotland lodged a re-consideration of this decision but it was rejected.

READ MORE: Police Scotland facing legal action over 'outdated' antidepressant rule

The force then lodged an appeal with the Employment Appeal Tribunal but this was also unsuccessful.

The case will now proceed to a preliminary hearing later this year before a full hearing takes place in the New Year.

Jay Lawson of Dundee-based firm MML Law, which is representing Ms Mackenzie, said the firm had been contacted by a number of other people with "almost carbon copy experiences" after The Herald revealed in July that the force was facing legal action.

Mr Lawson said: We are delighted that the attempt to appeal by Police Scotland was not accepted and thrown out at the first stage of the appeal process.

"The case will now proceed to a full hearing in early course. 

The Herald: Police Scotland is investigating the incident in South Inch

"The significant level of public interest in this case has not been surprising.

"The number of people that came forward who had been through similar to Laura and those before her is extremely concerning.

"The Tribunal hearing  will forensically analyse the treatment of applicants with underlying health conditions which are arguing is discriminatory on many levels.”

READ MORE:  Audit Scotland warns of 'slow and complicated' mental healthcare

Ms Mackenzie was described by her recruiting officer as an "impressive" candidate when she applied to join Police Scotland in June 2019.

He also said her application to become a probationary officer in the Highlands and Islands division "stood out".

She was issued with a provisional offer of employment in November 2019 - with several conditions.

One was to be "certified by a registered medical practitioner approved by the police authority to be fit both physically and mentally to perform the duties of a police officer".

About a month later, Ms MacKenzie attended a medical ahead of an expected uniform fitting. There the occupational health nurse asked her about antidepressants.

Ms Mackenzie said that she had believed that by this time Police Scotland, or its occupational health advisors, Optima Health, would have had access to her medical records.

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She said that she was taking an antidepressant drug for anxiety and depression.

The nurse consulted a colleague and then advised her of a "two year rule" stipulating that probationary police officers had to be free of antidepressant drugs for a period of two years before they could be considered for employment.

According to employment tribunal papers, an occupational health nurse said the policy was "old and may be due to be revised."

Ms Mackenzie said she was "heartbroken" by this after being transparent with Police Scotland about her health.

Weeks later, the Highlands and Islands division announced that it had secured funding for a three-year mental health and wellbeing project for officers and staff.

Police Scotland also confirmed a formal partnership with See Me, Scotland's programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment at this stage.”