Gender-fluid and non-binary workers protected under Equality Act

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Protections under the Equality Act for those going through gender reassignment extends to those who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, an employment tribunal has said in a major victory for an engineer who claimed she was discriminated against by Jaguar Land Rover.

Ms R Taylor, a gender fluid former JLR employee who dressed in women’s clothes, won her claim for harassment, discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal after she was subjected to insults and jokes from colleagues and had difficulty using toilet facilities at work.

Taylor, who had worked at JLR as an engineer for 20 years, previously presented as male but began identifying as gender-fluid and non-binary in 2017.

Taylor told an employment tribunal that she had little support from the firm’s management, which did not allow her to retract her resignation from the company.

The worker brought claims of harassment, direct discrimination and victimisation on the ground of gender reassignment at the Birmingham employment tribunal.

JLR argued that, because Taylor was a gender fluid/non-binary individual, she did not fall into the definition of gender reassignment under section 7 of the Equality Act 2010.

However, in its judgment earlier this week, the tribunal found the claimant “had the protected characteristic of gender reassignment” and found JLR’s argument to the contrary was “totally without merit”.

Employment Judge Hughes said: “Having heard submissions on this point, this employment tribunal considers it appropriate to award aggravated damages in this case because of the egregious way the claimant was treated and because of the insensitive stance taken by the respondent in defending these proceedings.

“We are also minded to consider making recommendations in order to alleviate the claimant’s injury to feelings by ensuring the respondent takes positive steps to avoid this situation arising again.”

A hearing to consider how much compensation Taylor will be awarded has been set for next month.

Barrister Robin Moira White, who represented the claimant, said: “This is an important judgment, albeit at first instance, recognising for the first time the rights of a small number of individuals with complex gender identities.  Once again the courts have shown themselves willing to stand up for the rights of individuals in a manner which demands respect and admiration. I pay tribute to my brave client.

“I see no reason why this ruling should not extend to other complex gender identities such as a-gender and gender queer.”

Jaguar Land Rover has been approached for comment.

Personnel Today has used the pronoun ‘she’ in this article as this was the pronoun used in the tribunal’s judgment.

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