Transgender Rights: Harassment and Discrimination in the workplace

Late last year we fought a case for a transgender woman who was being discriminated against and harassed by her employer and colleagues. This woman had worked for the company happily for an astounding 23 years, yet despite the rapport and connections that she had built up, things changed frighteningly quickly following her transition.We find it so hard to understand what must be going through someone’s mind to make another person feel this way, let alone someone who has worked solidly for you for a number of decades and should be protected and supported through this difficult stage in their life.

We are finding that there are more and more instnces of transgender related bullying and discrimination at work and regardless of how long you have worked for your employer, be that a week or 30 years, you are still afforded the same protections under the law to ensure that equality prevails. You are even protected in the recruitment stage.

There has to be a justifiable reason to treat people differently at work and when those reasons are based on your transgender status they are most certainly not justified. Discrimination is where a person is treated less favourably than another due to a protected characteristic. For example failing to promote a transgender person over a cisgender person purely because of their transgender identity. Discrimination also covers practices or policies that are implemented that have an adverse effect on someone with a protected characteristic. For example a blanket ban on working from home despite a transgender person requiring working from home arrangements following or prior to sensitive treatments as part of their transition.

Harassment within employment law is where a person is subjected to unwanted conduct which is due to their protected characteristic. This unwanted conduct must violate the person’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. An example of this could be inappropriate ‘jokes’ inappropriate questions or simply the ignoring and isolation of the individual.

Discrimination and harassment is unlawful and not only are your colleagues prevented from exhibiting this behaviour but so is your employer. An employer’s duty goes even further to a responsibility to prevent this from being carried out by any employees during your employment.

Within the UK we have come on leaps and bounds for lesbian, gay and bisexual rights, however transgender rights have fallen behind and discrimination is a rife issue. Transgender rights are the next challenge for equality within the UK and it seems that there is a lot to do to ensure that we move in the right direction protecting and advocating for the Trans Community and acceptance within the workplace.

If you are experiencing any work-related issues and would like to discuss this with us further then please contact us at enquiries@acitylawfirm.com or call us on 0207 426 0382 and ask to speak with a member of the Employment Team who will be happy to assist you. Please note that all information provided to us is held in the strictest of confidence.