Transgender woman claims direct discrimination

by Jon Taylor

7 November 2023

Transgender woman successfully claims direct discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment as a result of being “deadnamed”.

In the case of Miss AB v Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, an Employment Tribunal considered whether the Claimant had been directly discriminated against on the grounds of gender reassignment as a result of a number of alleged failures following her decision to transition.

The Claimant gave her employer 8 months’ notice prior to her transitioning in July 2020. Despite this, the Respondent failed to update her name on her door pass, pension records, internal systems and the staff directory for two years after her transition. In addition to this, the Respondent simply crossed her old name out and put a post-it note of her new name on her locker. The act of referring to a transgender person as the name they used prior to transitioning is known as “deadnaming”.

In order to successfully claim direct discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, a claimant must show:

  • they were treated less favourably than a real or hypothetical comparator; and
  • the less favourable treatment was because of a protected characteristic.

The Claimant successfully argued that the practice of deadnaming her was direct discrimination and that she had been subject to less favourable treatment (in comparison to herself prior to transitioning) as a result of her gender reassignment (a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010). The Claimant also successfully argued that her employer had taken certain work away from her as a result of her gender reassignment and that this also amounted to less favourable treatment. The Claimant raised numerous complaints about the treatment she received, which she alleged was not dealt with sufficiently or was not escalated quickly enough despite the serious nature of the allegations. The Tribunal ruled that the failure to deal with these complaints was, in part, due to the Claimant’s protected characteristic. As a result of her successful claims, the Claimant was awarded £25,423 in compensation.

In the Tribunal’s judgement, they also criticised the Respondent for failing to have adequate policies regarding gender reassignment, but they made it clear that this did not amount to discrimination under the Equality Act.

This landmark case is a huge win for transgender rights, but also provides an important reminder to employers that they should have adequate procedures in place regarding gender reassignment.

This article was written by Jasper Blacklock.

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