In AB v Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the Claimant was a transwoman who worked in the transport department at the Respondent Council. She transitioned with effect from 1 July 2020, giving her employer eight months' notice before she did so. She complained that she was given no support by the Council prior to, during, and after her transition. She brought a direct discrimination claim on the grounds of gender reassignment, citing multiple instances of alleged less favourable treatment.
The majority of the alleged direct discrimination related to 'deadnaming', which is when a trans person's pre-transition name is used following transition. The Claimant pointed to many instances where she had been deadnamed due to inefficiencies within the Council's systems. For example, her name was not updated on her pension records until August 2022, and remained unchanged on the Council's directories and email systems for nearly two years. This resulted in her being deadnamed and misgendered by external parties as well as internally within the Council itself.
The Tribunal found these examples of deadnaming amounted to direct discrimination. The Council had also directly discriminated against the Claimant by removing some of her job responsibilities, and by failing to take the Claimant's complaint seriously.
As there had been no loss of earnings, the Tribunal considered what award of compensation for injury to feelings within the 'Vento' bands was appropriate. It considered the substantial short-term effect on AB and found that this was a 'middle' band case. AB was awarded £21,000 plus £4,423 in interest.
This is a first instance decision, which is not binding on other Tribunals. It nevertheless offers some practical learning points, as it demonstrates the need for employers to be proactive in supporting transitioning employees and to ensure their processes and systems prevent less favourable treatment.
It may be appropriate to train HR and IT staff on organisational changes that should be promptly made when an employee transitions, in order to prevent a similar set of circumstances from arising.
Additionally, regular and up-to-date training for both managers and staff is key to identifying and potentially helping prevent issues where equality, diversity and inclusion are concerned. This can be achieved in the form of, attending relevant webinars or events, bespoke training or online eLearning.