Case law | How did the LGBT community win against Jaguar Land Rover Ltd?
An important sex discrimination case, and victory for the LGBT community, was decided by the Employment Appeal Tribunal on 21 September 2020.
Does protection under the Equality Act for those going through gender reassignment extend to those who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary? Yes, stated the Employment Tribunal in this case.
The Government Equalities Office Guide defines the term ‘non-binary’ to describe someone who does not subscribe to the customary binary approach to gender, and who may regard themselves as neither male nor female, or both male and female, or take another approach to gender entirely. Gender fluid people may have different gender identities at different times and may change their gender identity and presentation.
Ms Taylor had worked at the company for almost 20 years as an engineer and had previously presented as male. She began identifying as gender fluid in 2017. She then usually dressed in women’s clothing and was subsequently subjected to insults from colleagues and abusive jokes at work. In her claim, Ms Taylor said her access to toilets was restricted by her employer.
In a tribunal claim brought by R Taylor against Jaguar Land Rover, it was claimed that she suffered from harassment, direct discrimination and victimization because of her protected characteristics of gender reassignment and sexual orientation.
Jaguar Land Rover argued that discrimination protections did not apply in this case as the term ‘gender reassignment’ only applied to those in transition between binary genders of male and female. As Ms Taylor was not in the process of transition, it was argued that she was not protected by the Equality Act 2010.
Ms R Taylor successfully argued she was harassed following her gender reassignment whilst working for the car manufacturer. The employment judge P Hughes said Jaguar Land Rover had treated Ms Taylor in an ‘egregious way’.
Prior to this ruling, there was limited case law and commentary on this point and a potential lack of protection for the wider trans community, such as those identifying as gender fluid / non-binary.
This case flags the risks to employers of not recognizing and addressing the challenges that some colleagues can face whilst transitioning.