Trans Woman Awarded £25,000 in First Deadnaming Case; ET Says She Was Unfavourably Treated
In the case of Miss AB v Royal Borough Of Kingston Upon Thames, the claimant was awarded over £25,000 following deadnaming by her employer. Miss AB, a trans woman, experienced direct sex discrimination at work following her gender reassignment.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, deadnaming occurs when a transgender or non-binary individual is called by a name they no longer use. This is because that name matches the gender they were assigned at birth before transitioning.
The Facts in Miss AB v Royal Borough Of Kingston Upon Thames
Background – The Claimant’s Transition
Eight months before her transition in July 2020, Miss AB informed her employer of her intent to do so. She explained how she was never provided with support. Also, she said her employer failed to comply with their duty of care.
Bullying and Inappropriate Emails
Some months after her transition, Miss AB raised concerns regarding street lighting plans with her manager, Mr C. Although her manager initially appeared to support her concerns, this didn’t last. The claimant’s superiors spoke about her, accusing her of throwing a “hissing fit” and referring to her using derogatory language.
This led to Miss AB contacting her manager in December 2020, implying that she had been singled out and called incompetent. If this behaviour continued, she’d pass future correspondence to HR, believing her employer had been on a witch hunt for her since her transition. She stated that if her employer wanted her to resign, she would do so on grounds of constructive dismissal and secondary discrimination. Miss AB said that she refused to be bullied or treated demeaningly.
How Miss AB’s Employer Responded to Her Email
Rather than addressing Miss AB’s unofficial complaint, her manager demanded an apology. He reasoned that several serious allegations lacking any foundation had been made. Her employer finally responded to her complaint in January 2021, asking her to “substantiate her grievances or apologise to Mr C”.
At the start of February, she was given management instruction to retract her unofficial complaint or proceed with the formal grievance procedure. Failure to comply would result in formal disciplinary processes commencing. Miss AB responded immediately, saying she would seek legal advice before making a formal complaint. Despite this, her response wasn’t treated as a formal matter, and in the following months, the council attempted to de-escalate the situation.
The Claimant’s Sick Leave
Due to the above events, Miss AB explained how she suffered stress and trauma due to victimisation and bullying. As a result, her mental health was severely affected, and the tribunal heard how, at her worst, she had considered self-harm. Her mental state meant that the GP signed her off work between 25 June and 30 November 2021.
Although Miss AB transitioned in July 2020, her name wasn’t updated throughout her employer’s records for almost two years. This meant she experienced deadnaming during this period. Furthermore, it took two years for her to receive a door pass to access work facilities. When she finally got access, she discovered a Post-it note on her locker. This displayed her dead name crossed out, with her post-transition name written on it, which wasn’t resolved until 28 April 2022.
Furthermore, the claimant recalled that, when making a call about her vehicle pass, she was dead-named and misgendered by third-party agents. She explained how she found this demeaning and degrading.
As a result of the employer’s conduct, which included deadnaming, Miss AB took them before an employment tribunal. She claimed direct discrimination at work and had her claim heard in July 2023 before Judge Mclaren.
The Decision of the Employment Tribunal
The employment tribunal outlined the law about direct discrimination. They stated that, under s.13 of the Equality Act 2010, this occurs when an individual is treated ‘less favourably’ because of a protected characteristic. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under this legislation.
After hearing everything put before them, the tribunal found in favour of Miss AB, ruling she had experienced direct discrimination. They dismissed some parts of her claim but found that she had been treated less favourably through deadnaming her, and this was because she was a trans woman.
Due to the tribunal’s decision, Miss AB was awarded £25,423. This consisted of £21,000 as compensation for injury to her feelings and £4,423 of interest.
How to Avoid Deadnaming Employees
To avoid deadnaming employees, consider:
- Not making it a requirement to use one’s legal name. Legally changing a name can be difficult, take time and present challenges.
- If the individual transitioning would like all other staff members to know. At their request, this could prevent deadnaming throughout the workplace.
- Updating all instances where the old name is displayed. For example, the new name may need to be updated on email addresses, door nameplates or company documents.
Contact us today if you’ve experienced deadnaming and want to take action. We will discuss the facts of your case and inform you of your possible next steps.