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Gender reassignment discrimination

The employment tribunal has awarded a Claimant over £47,000 in compensation following successful claims of direct discrimination and harassment in relation to gender reassignment.

Background

The Claimant identified as a woman and had lived as a woman for 16 years. On her first day at Primark she presented her passport to evidence her right to work in the UK. The passport was in her birth name “Alexander” rather than the name she now used.

Primark informed the Claimant that payroll would have to use the name as stated on her passport but said that she could use her chosen name, “Alexandra” on her name badge. However, the Claimant’s birth name was not used solely for payroll reasons and was printed on the rota (which supervising staff could see) and her name badge was labelled “Alexander”.

It became common knowledge throughout the store that the Claimant was transgender and gossip circulated amongst staff. The Claimant’s supervisor began calling her Alexander in front of staff and customers, comments were made by staff about the Claimant “smelling like a men’s toilet” and that she had a “deep man’s voice”. Another member of staff allowed an electrician to enter the ladies staff toilets when the Claimant was in there after stating “there are no ladies in there”.

The Claimant submitted a grievance about her treatment but an outcome was never issued.

The Claimant eventually resigned and brought claims of harassment and direct discrimination.

Decision

The Employment Tribunal held that the Claimant had been subjected to gender assignment related harassment and direct discrimination.

The tribunal awarded the Claimant compensation of approximately £47,500 including loss of earnings and injury to feelings with interest.

The tribunal also made recommendations that Primark:

  • Adopt a written policy regarding how to deal with new or existing staff who are transgender and detail how it will preserve their confidentiality;
  • Agree a plan with the individual concerned;
  • Train staff and managers about dealing with transgender staff; and
  • Include transgender discrimination in its equality and harassment policies.

Comment

Gender reassignment is a sensitive subject and employers need to have procedures in place to protect the confidentiality of transgender employees. Having an Equal Opportunities Policy, a Bullying and Harassment Policy and providing appropriate training for staff is recommended to demonstrate that employers have taken necessary steps to prevent unlawful discrimination in the workplace.

 

 

 

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