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Transgender NHS worker wins gender reassignment discrimination claim after ‘concern’ among staff that the woman was ‘naked from the waist down’ in the changing room

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of V v Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and others the Claimant is a transgender woman. She has a law degree, obtained as a mature student. The Claimant’s identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons. The Claimant applied for a full-time role as a Catering Assistant at the Northern General Hospital.

The trust – which gives staff equality and diversity training – encouraged workers to be respectful to her, however soon after joining she suffered abuse. The transgender woman was asked by her manager whether she wore underwear at work or ‘if she wore it in general’.

The questioning came because there had been ‘concern’ among staff that the transgender woman was ‘naked from the waist down’ in the communal changing room and she had made a ‘light-hearted’ comment about being so hot at work she took her pants off.

Concluding, Employment Judge Sarah-Jane Davies ruled a female manager quizzed her because she is transgender. Judge Davies said: ‘A concern about the woman’s state of undress in the changing rooms was likely to be connected with the fact that she is a transgender woman.

‘This was a communal changing room with a shower cubicle. It did not seem to the Tribunal likely that there would have been a concern about a cisgender woman in a state of undress while changing in such a changing room.

‘The Tribunal therefore concluded that [the manager] asked the questions because of a concern that the woman as a transgender woman might be in a state of undress in the female changing room.

The employee won a claim of gender reassignment discrimination related to the underwear questions.

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