There is little more sensitive as a topic in the workplace than when an employee is undergoing gender reassignment. The Employment Tribunal (ET) has recently heard a case in which the employer's failings in this regard were considerable.
Of particular note is the process failings connected to 'deadnaming'. This is the situation when a transgender person is called by their birth name when they have changed their name as part of their gender transition.
The claimant gave notice to the employer that she was intending to transition eight months before she did so. She transitioned with effect from July 2020. She complained that she was given no support by her employer who failed in its duty of care towards her and had not implemented appropriate policies. The employer accepted that it did not handle the claimant's transition well.
The ET described the employer's failings as 'woefully inadequate'. The employer had not incorporated legal obligations into its policies, nor had it given appropriate training to its staff.
It took two years to update the employee's pension records and after transitioning it took two years to get her door pass which allowed access into the office and gave access to operate the printers. When the claimant did get into the building, her locker had a post-it note put on it with her deadname crossed out and her post-transition name written on. This was in full view of everyone.
All employers should ensure that their policies are up to date and should take specialist advice to avoid the failings which befell the employer in this case. The ET held that the various failures to update the claimant's name and so deadname her in relation to various processes and records did amount to less favourable treatment and that this was because of the claimant's protected characteristic. The ET awarded £21,000 for injury to feelings plus interest.
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