Retail assistant Alexandra de Souza E Souza was dismissed from her job at the large high street chain after being harassed for being transgender.
Alexandra informed Primark that she was transgender and that her birth name was Alexander when she applied for the role in August 2016.
The company said that they would have to use her official name for pay, but that she could use Alexandra on her name badge, which she had said is her preferred name.
Before starting, the HR team mistakenly changed the preferred name on the IT system from Alexandra to Alexander and her title from Miss to Mr. This was then printed on her name badge and the daily allocation sheets that were provided to supervisors on the shop floor.
This led to Alexandra being called by the wrong name and after correcting supervisors they would just laugh. She also claimed that other staff would spray men’s perfume over her till and make hurtful comments about her sexuality.
Alexandra made complaints about the bullying and harassment that she was receiving but she wasn’t taken seriously and, instead, was told to calm down as she was ‘drawing attention to herself’.
The judge on the employment tribunal found that she was treated unfairly by the company and awarded her £47,433.03 in compensation.
Judge Lewis also told Primark to adopt a policy on how to correctly deal with transgender staff, stating: “All this may well have been prevented had there been proper systems from the outset to preserve confidentiality for transgender employees. We find it shocking that the respondents could not devise a way of keeping the claimant’s legal name off the core allocation sheets and out of the knowledge of her supervisors.
“The respondents ought to have been able to devise a system whereby only one or two people in HR and payroll were aware of the claimant’s transgender status.”
What Policies Should You Put in Place for Transgender Employees?
Every workplace should consider having a policy in place for transgender employees to avoid finding themselves in the same predicament as Primark.
Such documentation will need to consider both fully transitioned employees, those undergo a transition or those who just identify as the opposite sex.
This policy should include:
- Preferred name and appropriate personal pronouns for employee documentation
- Any confidentiality agreement between the employer and employee
- Time off and support for those transitioning
- Use of toilet, changing and show facilities
- Who needs to be made aware of any changes, when and how they will be informed
It is also important that employers have an equal opportunity and bullying and harassment policy in place which is adequately communicated to staff so that any offensive comments or jokes can be appropriately disciplined.
For many transgender people, making the decision to publicly share their transition is extremely difficult so it should always be dealt with in a sensitive and professional manner.
You may find it quite a challenging policy to write up, especially if you are not sure on the laws or the process of transitioning and what it means for your employee.
If you require support with your transgender policy, or any HR issue for that matter, then we have a team of experienced Employment Law consultants who can talk you through your queries and even write up policies for you and your business.
To book a free consultation, call us today on 0845 2626 260