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As the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Council recently found out, getting matters related to gender identity at work wrong can be costly, not only for the employer themselves but also those individuals impacted.

Precept want to make sure you avoid these sort of errors so that you’ve got a happy and diverse workplace.

Let’s learn from the Council’s mistakes by taking a look at what went wrong…

Well, in a recent tribunal judgement, a Claimant (Miss AB as she was referred to in the anonymised judgement) succeeded in her claim for direct gender reassignment discrimination against the Council and was ultimately awarded £25,400.

Miss AB’s claim hinged on the fact that the Council had “deadnamed” her after it had failed to update her personal records following her transition to a woman.

Just to be clear, deadnaming is the practice of using someone’s pre-transition name.

In fact, in this case, it took two years before the Claimant’s personnel records (including her pension record, day pass and a staff directory) were updated to reflect her gender and her proper name.

In a separate incident, the Claimant discovered a Post-It note that was stuck onto her locker. Her dead name had been crossed out and her post-transition name had been written on it.

The Claimant had given the Council 8 months notice that she was transitioning before she did in July 2020 and, despite this, the Council failed to make necessary arrangements to support the Claimant.

What actually happened after she had informed the Council of her plan to transition, was things got slowly worse. The tribunal heard that managers had reportedly accused her of throwing a “hissing fit” when she disagreed with plans around street lighting which she felt was unsafe and this resulted in her receiving emails containing derogatory and unprofessional language.

The Claimant was then forced to have her manager check her emails before she could send them to councillors. She eventually wrote to her manager to say she felt she had been singled out, bullied and treated in a demeaning manner following her transition. The manager refused to deal with the complaints. Instead, they went the other way and asked for an apology from her.

Essentially, this case serves to show us exactly what not to do when an employee transitions.

The Tribunal Judge in this case even highlighted themselves that the issues in the claim emphasised the need for employers to ensure they have adequate practices in place to support staff who are transitioning.

We totally get that, whilst on first blush, gender identity issues might seem complex, once you’ve got the basics down it can be fairly easy to get things right.

If you want to do just that – start to get a grip on the basics and expand your education on gender identity issues generally whilst gaining expert insight into how this area interplays with employment law and HR best practice – keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming session on Gender Identity at Work. We’re going to be covering these very issues and giving you our top tips on how to support trans, gender fluid and non-binary staff.

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