Decisions in the employment tribunal are often indicative of potential developments within employment law. In the recent case of Taylor versus Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, the protected characteristic of gender reassignment saw a significant shift to now include non-binary or gender fluid individuals.
Whilst employers may feel that their efforts towards equality and discrimination awareness are substantial, it is crucial that they consider developments such as this to maintain relevance in their approach.
The claimant (Taylor), who was an engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, decided to inform her managers that she was transitioning from male to female in 2017.
As heard in the tribunal, she then suffered harassment and discrimination when attending work dressed in female clothing. Consequently, she decided to resign from her position, raising complaints of constructive dismissal alongside multiple allegations of gender reassignment discrimination.
It was found in the tribunal that the claimant’s colleagues had directed insults towards her appearance, whilst also referring to her as ‘it’. In the respondent’s view, the claimant was not included within the protected characteristic at the time, as they argued that she had described herself as gender fluid or non-binary.
However, the tribunal ultimately found that the claimant was protected, as she was in fact engaged in a ‘journey of transition’ when working at the company. Due to this, she was successful in her claims of constructive dismissal and harassment, with the tribunal judge recognising that gender should be viewed as a spectrum.
What does this mean for employers?
For any organisation, it is vastly important that their employees understand the risks and issues associated with equality and discrimination at work. One of the best ways of ensuring this is by providing sufficient training, particularly in relation to discrimination law.
In the context of this case, training may not have necessarily prevented a claim from being made. However, it may have given the employer a stronger means of defence, on the basis that all reasonable steps had been taken to prevent discrimination.
Whilst we always advise that businesses consider our Equality and Discrimination Awareness course, the developments from this case add further reinforcement to its importance within the workplace. By engaging in specialist training, employers can take a significant step towards avoiding or defending a discrimination claim.