Sacked transexual awarded £22,000

A
post-operative transexual who was dismissed from her job after complaining of
sex discrimination is to receive £22,000 compensation.

Clare
Steen was employed as a production operative by Structural Polymer Systems Ltd
on the Isle of Wight in November 2000. She claimed she was given work in an
all-male team and directed towards the male changing rooms. She also claimed
that she was aware of "blokey comments" being made about her
transexuality, and that her team leader treated her and spoke to her in an
abusive manner, which she did not believe he would use with other women.

Steen’s
initial appraisal in May 2001 recorded that she had displayed "the right
attitude" and "fitted in well" with her team. However, two
months later she was dismissed on grounds of unsuitability for the job, her
employer citing "unfounded allegations against other employees, and an
unwillingness to play a full part in the team" as reasons for her
dismissal. Her dismissal took place shortly after raising concerns about her
treatment with her managing director and head of human resources.

Julie
Mellor, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission who supported the case,
said: "If an employer fails to handle complaints of harassment of any kind
properly, there is a real risk they will end up losing valued members of staff
with the skills their business needs. Having a proper grievance procedure in
place means people know that any complaint will be taken seriously and that
they won’t be victimised because of their complaint.

"Employers
need to cultivate a working environment in which all employees understand that
harassment of any kind will not be tolerated."

The
£22,000 compensation agreement covers Steen’s loss of earnings to the date of
the tribunal, approximately one year’s future loss of earnings, and £10,000 for
injury to feelings.

Discrimination
against transexuals in the workplace became unlawful when the Sex
Discrimination Act (1975) was amended in 1999.

By Quentin Reade

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