Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Yet a case recently emerged in which a female Primark employee received £47,000 in compensation after suffering gender reassignment discrimination.
The woman at the centre of the claim alleged she had suffered an array of derogatory comments about her gender status from fellow employees. She alleged she was sprayed with men’s perfume, told she “had a man’s voice”, and was called “evil”. It also transpired that Primark’s IT system and daily allocation sheets had used her legal name, Alexander, as opposed to her chosen name, Alexandra which in turned spawned comments from staff. The employee had informed Primark of her preferred name at her interview and the start of her employment.
This all contributed to a judge finding she had been constructively dismissed, stating that Primark had failed to devise a system whereby only a select few people in HR and payroll were aware of the employee’s status and finding it ‘shocking’ that Primark had been unable to accommodate the woman’s chosen name.
This case demonstrates the need for employers to educate all staff on different types of discrimination and how it can manifest itself within the workplace. Employers are advised to consider separate policies for each type of discrimination to ensure that no issues arise on the grounds of discrimination at all.