News - ET finds that ‘gender reassignment’ (s.7 EqA) includes gender fluid and non-binary individuals

Employment & Discrimination - Robin White, Serena Crawshay-Williams

Oral judgment on liability was given on 14.09.20 by Employment Judge Hughes in the case of Taylor v Jaguar Land Rover (Case No. 1304471/2018). A remedy hearing has been set for 02.10.20.

Facts

The Claimant was a longstanding engineer working in Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) plant. In 2017, Ms Taylor identified as gender fluid / non-binary, from which time she usually dressed in women’s clothing. Ms Taylor was subsequently subjected to insults and abusive jokes at work. She also suffered difficulties with the use of toilet facilities and managerial support. She brought claims of harassment, direct discrimination and victimisation on the ground of gender reassignment. JLR argued Ms Taylor, as gender fluid / non-binary, did not fall within the definition of gender reassignment under section 7 of the Equality Act 2010 (‘EqA’).

Judgment

The Tribunal upheld Ms Taylor’s claims of harassment, direct discrimination and victimisation. The Tribunal noted that the question of whether a gender fluid / non-binary person fell within section 7, EqA 2010 was a novel point of law. During submissions there was reference to Hansard comments made during the Equality Bill parliamentary debates in 2009. It was noted that the Solicitor-General referred to a gender “spectrum” and that gender reassignment “concerns a personal journey and moving a gender identity away from birth sex”. The Tribunal held it was “clear… that gender is a spectrum” and that it is “beyond any doubt” that the Claimant fell within the definition of section 7, EqA 2010. The implication of this judgment is that other complex gender identities may also fall within the definition of gender reassignment under section 7, EqA 2010 where individuals propose to undergo a process of moving their gender identity away from their birth gender.

Robin Moira White represented the Claimant and was instructed by Sioban Calcott of Brethertons. Robin said:

            “This is an important judgment, 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 also pay tribute to James Morton of the Scottish Trans Alliance who was of particular assistance in preparing the important point on the scope of the Equality Act provisions.  I see no reason why this ruling should not extend to other complex gender identities such as a-gender and gender queer.”

Case summary written by Serena Crawshay-Williams.

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