As you may already be aware, The Equality Act 2010 (EA) is a piece of legislation here in the UK relating to discrimination at work. It provides protection for all employees under every section of UK employment, from recruitment through to dismissal and when working on a contractual or self-employed basis, it is definitely worth knowing about.
Below is a list of ‘protected characteristics’ that all employees should be aware of and The EA currently provides protection to an employee if they suffer unfavourable treatment due to;
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Whilst the majority of these protected characteristics are fairly self-explanatory and easy to understand, in recent years there has been some confusion and uncertainty regarding gender reassignment. The EA states that;
“A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.”
This has left some people questioning whether or not they are also protected under this particular characteristic. The continually increasing awareness that gender identity is not limited to the binary of male or female has led to increased confusion in relation to The EA. Both non-binary and gender-fluid people, in particular, had previously been uncertain as to where they stand, but they seem to finally have some answers.
What has changed?
On Monday 12th September 2020, a Birmingham employment judge ruled in favour of a non-binary engineer who experienced discrimination a work due to their gender identity. Although the defendant, Jaguar Land Rover, argued that the discrimination protections did not apply in the case and that the term ‘gender reassignment’ only applied to someone who had transitioned between the two binary genders, the tribunal made it clear that gender is a spectrum and the claimant should be protected.
There is no denying that this singular ruling has not just cleared up any confusion regarding The EA’s protected characteristics, but it has also brought hope to many in the LGBTQ+ community here in the UK. Many have commented that this is a massive step forward for the recognition of non-binary people and that it has reassured non-binary and gender-fluid professionals that employment tribunals will insist on them being protected in the workplace too.
Employment law specialists and LGBTQ+ law specialists see no reason why other gender identities, such as agender and genderqueer, should not be protected by The EA now too. Whilst there have not actually been any changes made to The EA itself, this case has most certainly been a milestone moment for anyone with more complex gender identities.
Many will now be waiting to see the outcome of any similar cases that may be brought to the Employment Tribunal in the near future.
Making a discrimination at work claim
It is thought that many within the LGBTW+ community stay silent about the direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation that they receive at work and hopefully, they will feel more confident to speak up about their experiences and take required action now.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you would like to make a discrimination at work claim against your employer, do not hesitate to contact our team here at Nationwide Employment Lawyers today. Our incredibly experienced team will gladly assist you with your claim and be by your side as your case is dealt with by an Employment Tribunal. We provide an extremely high standard of service at a lower cost than many comparable firms due to the fact that we operate as a modern, efficient and highly skilled team. So, please feel free to reach out to us today should you require our help.