Russian Court Rules Trans Woman Was Fired Illegally

The ruling marks the first time that a Russian court has acknowledged workplace discrimination against a transgender person.

A gavel on a rainbow flag, celebrating the victory in a Russian court

In a landmark ruling, a Russian court has found that a transgender woman who lost her job at a printing press after changing the gender marker on her official ID from male to female was fired illegally.

Anna Grigoryeva had been working in her job for ten years identifying as a man, but was fired in July 2017 when she changed her official ID to acknowledge her gender transition. Her employer cited a Russian law which bars women from entering jobs in over 35 different industries deemed to be too “dangerous” or “arduous” for female involvement.

Grigoryeva sued her employer for discrimination, beginning a case that has taken two years to win. This Tuesday, the Frunze District Court in Saint Petersburg ruled that she was unlawfully fired.

As well as ordering the printing company to give her back her job, the court awarded her 10,000 rubles (€137) in damages and 1.85 million rubles (€25,425) for the two years of wages she lost.

Grigoryeva’s lawyer, Maksim Olenichev, told RFE/RL that his client’s victory sets a “very important precedent.” He said, “for the first time in Russia, a transgender person has managed to defend her labour rights in court.”

The law on work roles prohibited for women in Russia, which lists over 450 specific jobs, was introduced in 2000 under President Vladimir Putin. It has been criticised as a throwback to Soviet-era regulations that sought to restrict women to what the Communist Party called their “traditional” role as child-bearers – and according to a lawyer with the LGBT+ rights group Vykhod (Coming Out), Ksenia Mikhailova, its main purpose is indeed to preserve women’s ability to reproduce.

Mikhailova has praised the Russian court that ruled in favour of Grigoryeva, calling its decision that the law on women at work should not have been applied to her a step forward for Russia’s trans community. The decision, she says, will help other transgender people to gain recognition in society, defend their rights, and overcome workplace discrimination.

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