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Transgender worker loses harassment claim over name change on rota

In the case of Mandie Monroe v Central Bedfordshire Council, a trans woman argued that she had been harassed relating to her gender reassignment because her employer had deadnamed her on the rota.

In the case of Mandie Monroe v Central Bedfordshire Council, a trans woman argued that she had been harassed relating to her gender reassignment because her employer had deadnamed her on the rota.

The claimant is a transgender woman. She was engaged by the Council in April 2022. On her application form she used the name “Andy M” and was also referred to by this name during her interview.

She later explained to a colleague that she was in the early stages of transitioning and would go by the names Andy or Mandi and wouldn’t take offence if either was used. She signed off her emails as Mandi, or M but retained Andy in her email address.

During a MS Teams video call in her first month of employment, a colleague (Ms H) asked the claimant what name to use for the rota. The claimant didn’t respond directly but stood up to show

Ms H a long skirt and top. Ms H interpreted this behaviour as the claimant wanting to be named as Mandi on the rota.

A few days later, the claimant’s line manager, Ms R, spoke to the claimant to explain that, whilst she was free to use whatever name she wished, for staff and customers there needed to be consistency and the claimant should consider what first name she wanted to use. She said that she was content to be Andy in the workplace and Mandi outside it. She also said that she would accept the pronouns he/him.

Ms H had already prepared a rota for week commencing 2 May 2022 including the name of Mandi. A few days later, after the rota had been sent out, Ms R contacted Ms H to confirm that, in future rotas, the claimant should be referred to as Andy to avoid confusion with customers.

Ultimately, the claimant’s assignment with the Council was terminated (for reasons unrelated to these particular facts). The claimant subsequently pursued a number of claims, including a claim for harassment related to gender reassignment.

The tribunal held that the claimant had not been harassed on the grounds of her gender reassignment for the following reasons: –

  • It did not amount to “unwanted conduct” for Ms R to speak with the claimant to explain that using both names was confusing. Ms R asked her to choose how she wanted to be addressed and did not seek to influence that choice.
  • The claimant had elected to be called Andy during her interview and application form and had subsequently said that she did not mind which name colleagues used to refer to her. Critically, the claimant had also confirmed to Ms R that she wished to be referred to as Andy at work after Ms R had sought clarification.
  • Ms R’s act of clarifying the position, and the subsequent name change on the rota, was not conduct that amounted to harassment (i.e. it did not create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the claimant).

Source: Lexology

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