Non-binary and gender fluid workers now protected under UK Equality Act

Julia McGee-Russell reports on the milestone Equality Act case

Julia McGee-Russell
17th September 2020
A landmark employment tribunal ruling against Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that non-binary people are included in Equality Act protections.

R Taylor, who is non-binary, brought claims of harassment, direct discrimination, and victimisation against the company. On Monday, Birmingham judge Patrice Hughes ruled in favour of Taylor on the grounds of gender reassignment.

Judge Patrice Hughes ruled in favour of Taylor on the grounds of gender reassignment.

Previously an engineer at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) for almost two decades, Taylor was subjected to insults and abusive jokes at work. In addition, the claimant also suffered difficulties obtaining managerial support and using toilet facilities.

JLR argued that Equality Act workplace discrimination protections did not apply to Taylor as a non-binary gender fluid person, as "gender reassignment only applies to people who transition between the binary genders of male and female".

The tribunal made clear that "gender is a spectrum"

However, the tribunal made clear that "gender is a spectrum", stating it is "beyond any doubt" that Equality Act protections apply. This milestone case clarifies ambiguity over the UK Equality Act (2010), a precedent that will be "key in supporting future judicial decisions" according to Stonewall UK.

The charity concluded: "This judgment creates the potential for even more non-binary and gender-diverse people to be protected from harassment and discrimination in all areas of their lives, which is a vital step towards creating a world where all LGBT+ people can thrive as their authentic selves."

Barrister Robin Moira White, who represented R Taylor, called the ruling an “important judgement, albeit at first instance, recognising for the first time the rights of a small number of individuals with complex gender identities.”

“Once again, the courts have shown themselves willing to stand up for the rights of individuals in a manner which demands respect and admiration,” she said.

Lui Asquith, Director of Legal and Policy at transgender charity Mermaids UK, said: “We hope this judgement works to reassure all current and aspiring non-binary professionals that our courts will insist on them being respected and protected in the workplace too."

Many non-binary individuals have responded to the tribunal result on Twitter, with user Brook Marshall saying: "This makes me incredibly happy."

"For so long I’ve been worried about my legal protections as a proud non-binary person, but this is a huge step in the right direction in the fight for our basic human rights. Gender recognition can’t be long behind."

Endian Algar, a non-binary student at Newcastle University, says: "I would now feel a lot more comfortable being 'out' in a work environment knowing that I have established legal protection. Previously, I've been extremely cautious about how I express my gender at work, especially as I work in the education sector… It's great to hear about the ruling; it's made me feel very happy and a lot more secure."

A Newcastle student said they would now feel a lot more comfortable being 'out' at work

A hearing to decide the amount of compensation Taylor will be awarded has been set for next month.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

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AUTHOR: Julia McGee-Russell
Previous Deputy Editor of The Courier, previous Arts Sub-Editor and Head of News at Newcastle Student Radio. Lover of all things arts, culture, and self-care.

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