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Transgender discrimination case

Jersey Tribunal Case Briefing: Bisson v Condor Limited

Since 1 September 2015, paragraph 5 of schedule 1 of the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013 (the “Law”) states that transgender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Law.

Ms Bisson (the “Applicant”) complained to the JEDT on 26 November 2015 that she had been directly discriminated against by Condor Limited (the “Respondent”) because of her gender reassignment, and also, or alternatively, she was indirectly discriminated against because the Respondent had applied a provision, criterion or practice which was discriminatory in relation to her gender reassignment.

The complaint of direct discrimination arose when the Applicant had asked an employee of the Respondent which toilet she should use and was informed the disabled toilet would be most appropriate. The Applicant also complained the use of words “ladies” and “gents” rather than symbols on toilets amounted to indirect discrimination.

The Respondent later recognised this act of discrimination and admitted to the Tribunal that it was a non-intentional and non-malicious act of discrimination towards the Applicant.

It was agreed between the parties that litigation was not the preferred route and instead the parties were agreeable to the Tribunal making recommendations in this particular case.

In conclusion, the Tribunal found in reliance upon the admission made by the Repsondent, the Applicant’s complaints were well founded. The Tribunal made the following recommendations:

  • the Respondent will update its Equality and Diversity Policy and send a copy of it to the Applicant;
  • the Respondent will update its Employee Assistance Programme to ensure the Applicant, as a transgender person, will be treated sensitively by employees of the Respondent;
  • the preferred designation of the Applicant shall be noted and employees of the Respondent should refer to the Applicant in her preferred designation of “Ms Bisson”; and
  • the Respondent will alter the signage on its toilet facilities on all its vessels so the Applicant, as a transgender person, may use such toilet facilities without fear of humiliation or embarrassment.

What employers can take away from this case is that training employees on matters of discrimination is of upmost importance to avoid causing offence to customers,  damaging publicity and the costs of such claims.

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