Gender Reassignment and Discrimination

Employment Gender EqualIf as an employee, you are being treated unfairly, or less favourably than someone else, because you have had or are in the process of having gender reassignment treatment you are being unlawfully discriminated against. Reassigning a person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex, includes both a man who decides to live as a woman and a woman who decides to live as a man, without any medical procedures.

As an employer, you have a duty to your employees to make sure you prevent and eradicate any discrimination based on gender identity and reassignment within the workplace, including recruitment, selection for promotion and combating bullying or harassment.

Employees – managing the transition

Naturally undergoing a gender reassignment process while at work can be difficult but there are some steps that can be taken to aid a smooth transition:

  1. Alerting your employer in good time about taking time off from work for any medical appointments and procedures is crucial. If you are treated less favourably for these absences, you have a ground for a claim or discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
  2. It is a good idea to notify anyone who needs to be informed of your situation, which the HR department can assist with.
  3. Contact the HR department to update your records relating to your new identity.

Employers – supporting staff

You should make a conscious effort to rule out any possibilities for discrimination against an employee who is undergoing or has undergone a gender reassignment process. The most important way to attempt to guarantee no discrimination and to ease the employee’s state of mind making him feel comfortable is by remaining confidential. For example, perhaps destroying any records of the employee’s previous identity, unless they need to be retained for some legitimate reason and even doing so, making sure such records are not easily accessible to the ordinary employee.

Other points of good practice include maintaining a good level of communication with the relevant employee in order to keep up to date with their needs, worries or circumstance. This may include asking how they would like information or news of their gender reassignment to be passed onto fellow colleagues and communicating with other staff to confirm that they are aware that any discrimination or harassment based on gender reassignment is unacceptable and unlawful.

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