Those who undergo the challenging process of gender transition are entitled to their employers’ full understanding and support in establishing their new identity. A local authority which woefully failed in that obligation by persistently deadnaming a transitioning employee was ordered to pay her substantial compensation.
The woman gave the council eight months’ notice of her intention to transition. She subsequently launched Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings, alleging numerous acts of direct discrimination contrary to Section 13 of the Equality Act 2010. She claimed, amongst other things, that the council entirely failed to support her in achieving acceptance of her new, gender appropriate name.
The council accepted that its Dignity at Work Policy had not at the relevant time been updated to reflect the requirements of the Act. It admitted that, for a period of about two years following the woman’s transition, it failed to update her name on its pension records, staff directory or complaints system. For many months, her door pass also continued to bear her former name.
Ruling on the matter, the ET noted that the council has thousands of employees and a human resources department numbering around 60. Given those resources, the failure to have an up-to-date policy in place was surprising. No appropriate staff training on trans issues was provided. The woman was left to navigate the council’s complex systems with no support, or even signposting, from human resources.
The council said that it had learned a lesson with regard to deadnaming and that more support would in future be provided to transitioning employees. The ET found, however, that its policies and practices at the relevant time were woefully inadequate and that the woman understandably felt badly let down.
In awarding her £21,000 in compensation for injury to her feelings, the ET noted the council’s apparent failure to formally apologise for its lengthy delay in addressing the deadnaming issue. That added to her distress and, whilst she had thankfully made a good recovery, deadnaming was a contributory factor in her very significant period of psychiatric ill health. She was also awarded £4,423 in interest.