A huge step forward for gender equality

Posted on 1st October 2020

People who identify as gender fluid/non-binary are now protected under the Equality Act in no uncertain terms.

The judgment in Taylor v Jaguar Land Rover (Case No: 1304471/2018), released on 14 September 2020, was the first of its kind to reach the courts, setting a strong precedent for those who identify their gender as different from their birth sex.

The Claimant who identified as gender fluid/non-binary was the target of insults, jokes, and encountered difficulties in the use of toilet facilities and managerial support as a long term engineer working at the JLR plant.

A claim for direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation was brought against JLR on the grounds of gender reassignment.

JLR argued that the Claimant’s self-identification as gender fluid/non-binary did not fall within the definition of gender reassignment under section 7 of the Equality Act 2010.

In reaching the decision, the Tribunal referred to the Solicitor-General’s comments referring to gender as a “spectrum” back in 2009 when the wording of the Equality Act was being debated in parliament. Further submissions made at that time noted gender reassignment “concerns a personal journey and moving a gender identity away from birth sex”.

The case reflects the increasing change in social expectations, moving away from the perception that one must be either male or female. The ruling also resolves years of ambiguity in our anti-discrimination law as to whether gender fluid/non binary individuals have the same protections enjoyed by cis gendered individuals at work, who make up the majority of the population.

Employment law specialist Natalie Wellock comments:

“The significance of this decision is that for the first time the Employment Tribunal has found that the protected characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ extends to people who identify as non-binary and gender fluid. Although the decision is one of first instance (and so does not technically create legal precedent), it is likely to be influential in future cases, and may pave the way to establishing protection against discrimination in respect of other gender identities. It may also signal that the law is catching up with wider changes within society around how gender identity is perceived and a shift away from the concept that gender is binary. It is clear from this case that there is a need for employers to educate themselves about this area, which is developing quickly and ensure training is provided to employees in order to promote equality and inclusion within the workplace.”

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HJA’s LGBT+ Network aims to advise on LGBT+ legal issues and to highlight the firm as LGBT+ friendly. The network serves as an inclusive and visible forum for staff at HJA creating a safe space, contributing to business development, and providing a collective voice for LGBT+ employees.

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