Former Primark Employee Awarded Over £47,000 Damages In Transgender Discrimination Case
This month, an employment tribunal awarded a former Primark retail assistant over £47,0000 in damages when she was constructively dismissed from their Oxford store after suffering harassment for being transgender.
Their HR staff used Alexandra De Souza E Souza’s birth name on the IT system and changed her title from Miss to Mr. The error was printed on her name badge and time sheets, leading to her supervisor repeatedly calling her by the wrong name, despite being corrected.
Complaints were also made about the treatment Miss De Souza E Souza received from other employees, including derogatory comments and an allegation of being sprayed with men’s deodorant repeatedly.
Sadly, this case is not unusual, with an estimated 88% of transgender employees experiencing discrimination or harassment in their workplace (Gov.co.uk), so what are companies doing to tackle the problem?
Fortune 500 companies have started to introduce a specific gender identity non-discrimination policy, which advises and educates employees about the acceptable behaviour surrounding transgenderism, in an attempt to reduce the chances of discrimination within the workforce.
During the tribunal, Judge Lewis advised adopting this approach and creating a policy on how both management and employees should act towards transgender staff in order to avoid Miss De Souza E Souza’s case being repeated.
Part of the severity of this case stems from the refusal to take Miss De Souza E Souza’s complaint seriously. Beyond simply implementing a policy, companies need to handle any allegations of gender identity discrimination as seriously as any other violation of the Equality Act (2010) and raise awareness amongst higher ups that it is just as much a protected characteristic as race or disability status.
Primark are just one of many examples of the consequences of failing to educate employees about acceptable behaviour, but with a continually rising percentage of business giants providing the example, this is hopefully the beginning of the end for cases like Primark V. De Souza E Souza. After all, we live in a world that constantly challenges inequality and that same challenge needs to be applied to transgender discrimination in the workplace.