The barrister Allison Bailey has today won her case for discrimination at tribunal after she claimed her employer victimised her for upholding a gender critical belief.
She had launched claims against Garden Court Chambers and Stonewall after the charity complained to her employer about her involvement in the LGB Alliance Group, of which she is a co-founder. LGB Alliance opposes the view held by Stonewall that transgender women are women in the eyes of the law.
She lost her case against Stonewall, but her complaint against GCC was upheld. She has been awarded £22,000 in damages.
She argued that Stonewall tried to silence her for her involvement with the organisation, writing to her chambers, Garden Court Chambers in London, to encourage them to discipline her because of her views.
She claimed she was victimised for raising concerns about Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme and that she lost work and income as a result. Both Stonewall and Garden Court Chambers refuted her claim.
The tribunal, which began in April, found that by upholding the complaint against her, GCC had victimised her for a protected act – the fact she had tweeted about the “cotton ceiling”, the idea that men who identify as trans lesbians face difficulties being accepted as lesbians, and her belief that Stonewall was driving a “dangerous” agenda around gender self-identification.
Bailey, who is a lesbian, initially launched her case as a claim for indirect discrimination and victimisation in 2020, but in 2021, a judge agreed that she would be able to make further arguments for discrimination on the grounds of philosophical belief.
This decision was in light of the landmark case of Maya Forstater vs CGD Europe & Others, which ruled that the claimant was entitled to express her views on gender and that they constituted a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
Like Forstater, Bailey argued that her views meet the definition of philosophical belief. She raised more than £500,000 in crowdfunding donations to support her legal fees.
6/ Organisations who put ‘Stonewall Law’ before Equality Law or seek to silence others from lawfully voicing their criticism of Stonewall may be acting unlawfully & will suffer the consequences, even if Stonewall does not.#StonewallOut
— Allison Bailey (@BluskyeAllison) July 27, 2022
One of the judgment’s key findings was that her belief that “gender theory as proselytised by the First Respondent is severely detrimental” to both women and to lesbians is a protected philosophical belief, attracting the protections of the Equality Act 2010.
Bailey said in a statement: “This is a vindication for all those who, like me, object to the erasure of biological sex, of women, and of same sex attraction as material realities. It represents judicial recognition of the abuse waged against us.
“This case was never about money. I did not win everything, but I won the most important thing: I have brought Stonewall’s methods into the public eye, and I have shown them for what they now are. One of the proudest days of my life was being accepted into Garden Court Chambers. It was in the vanguard of [the] sort of law I set out to practise: socially conscious, enlightened and determined to represent those who most need the law’s protection, encapsulated in its motto: Do right, fear no-one. But its assumption of moral righteousness led it to classify gender critical feminism as bigotry, and me, by extension, as opposed to their ethos. On both counts it was wrong.”
The tribunal agreed on the complaint raised by Bailey that as a consequence of being a gender critical feminist, she was discriminated against and victimised by her colleagues.
It did not find that the complaint against Stonewall had satisfied the legal test of “instructing, causing or influencing” the discrimination she experienced.
Bailey added that she was “disappointed” not to have succeeded in this element of the claim.
“It never occurred to me as I was building my career that the organisation which would prove my biggest obstacle would be a charity set up ostensibly to protect people like me. Stonewall declared there were ‘good lesbians’ and ‘bad lesbians’, the latter including any lesbian that dared to hold that sex is real and immutable and the crucial criteria for being same-sex
attracted,” she said.
“Although I haven’t won my claim against them, it is still my belief that they have declared open season on lesbians like me and on women and men who disagree with its commercial lobbying goals.”
A spokesperson for Garden Court Chambers said it may appeal the findings of the tribunal.
“We are reviewing today’s judgment, which dismissed Ms Bailey’s claim against Stonewall and most of her claims against Garden Court Chambers including all her claims for indirect discrimination.
“In particular we note that her primary claim (for loss of earnings on the grounds of victimisation) was dismissed, the tribunal finding that ‘We could not conclude that it was shown that the fall in income was in any way influenced (let alone significantly influenced)’ by Ms Bailey’s complaint to colleagues about Garden Court becoming a Stonewall Diversity Champion or by her beliefs.
“The tribunal found that it ‘could not conclude that Garden Court Chambers as a whole had a practice of treating gender critical beliefs as bigoted’. This confirms our stance. We have maintained throughout that our members, quite reasonably, hold differing views in the complex debate around trans and sex-based rights. Our primary aim throughout has always been to uphold our values and maintain a workplace that is inclusive and welcoming to all.”
The spokesperson added: “We are reviewing the judgment carefully with our legal team with a view to appeal.”
Stonewall said it was pleased that the tribunal ruled it had not been found to have instructed, caused or induced Garden Court Chambers to discriminate against Allison Bailey.
A statement reads: “Our Diversity Champions programme supports employers to make their workplaces inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ employees. It provides resources, guidance and support for organisations who are committed to creating a workplace where everyone can thrive. We are incredibly proud of the inclusive communities these organisations are creating across the country, by going above and beyond the legal minimum to provide leading support for LGBTQ+ people at work.
“The case heard by the Employment Tribunal did not accurately reflect our intentions and our influence on organisations. Leaders within organisations are responsible for the organisational culture and the behaviour of their employees and workers. Stonewall’s resources, support and guidance is just one set of inputs they use to help them as they consider how best to meet the needs of their own organisation.”
Georgina Calvert-Lee, employment law and equality expert at Bellevue Law, said the judgment was “a clear reminder to employers that they have obligations both to transgender employees and to those with gender critical views”.
“Employers should take care to ensure steps taken with the laudable intention of supporting and including transgender people don’t inadvertently infringe upon the rights of others. It can be a difficult balance, and employers should take advice from lawyers, rather than interest groups,” she added.