Non-binary people are protected from workplace discrimination under UK's Equality Act

A Employment Tribunal ruled in favour of a non-binary worker's case against their employer, providing much needed clarification over the Equality Act.

Non-binary Equality Act A non-binary person using a laptop at work

Non-binary and gender fluid people are protected from workplace discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, according to a recent ruling by a UK Employment Tribunal.

A non-binary engineer, Mx Taylor, filed a complaint to a UK Employment Tribunal, claiming they were harassed and discriminated against because of their gender identity while working at Jaguar Land Rover’s plant. The company argued the employee did not fall within the definition of gender reassignment in the Equality Act and did not have a case. 

The Equality Act ensures legal protection for people who were being discriminated against in the workplace and in wider society on the basis of age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, race, religion, pregnancy and maternity, and marriage and civil partnership. However, there has been much confusion around whether this extends to non-binary and gender-fluid people. 

In a landmark case, the Tribunal ruled in favour of Mx Taylor’s claims of harassment, directed discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal. The court further stated it’s “clear that gender is a spectrum” and that is “beyond any doubt” that the claimant’s identity should be protected.

The hearing transcript details, “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,” it further reads. 

Mx Taylor’s representation, Robin Moria White, called the ruling an “important judgement, 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 agender and genderqueer,” she continued.

Speaking with Forbes, a spokesperson for Stonewall reflected on this significant case, “This ruling is a milestone moment in recognising the rights of non-binary and gender-fluid people to be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act. Up until now, it’s not been clear whether non-binary people would be protected by anti-discrimination legislation, which is what makes this Employment Tribunal judgement so important.”

The Employment Tribunal are set to reconvene on October 2 2020, where they will deal with a remedy for this case.

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