Legal insight: gender reassignment

Gender identity discrimination and harassment: the law

What counts as gender identity discrimination? It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a worker because of her (or his) gender identity. For example:

  • Dismissing a person because they intend to undergo gender reassignment.
  • Harassing or failing to investigate allegations of harassment because of a person’s gender identity.
  • Not taking a worker to client meetings after they have started gender reassignment.

The law protects job applicants as well as workers. So if you are rejected for a job because of your gender identity, this would be discrimination.

I am a trans person. Am I protected from discrimination because of gender identity?

Yes. The law protects people who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone a process (or part of a process) of gender reassignment.

What is harassment related to gender identity?

Harassment occurs when someone engages in unwanted conduct related to a worker’s gender identity which violates their dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It does not matter if the person intended to do so, it is simply enough that they have violated a worker’s dignity or caused a hostile environment.

Do I need to be under medical supervision or having surgery to be protected from discrimination because of gender identity?

No. You do not have to be proposing to undergo, be undergoing or to have undergone any physiological change. If you have undergone part of the process of reassigning your sex, you are protected under the law.

What happens if I need to be absent from work because of gender reassignment?

If you are absent from work because of gender reassignment, your employer should generally treat you the same as if you were absent from work for sickness or injury.

Legal insight’ is provided by Leigh Day & Co solicitors, specialists in employment discrimination. They can be contacted on 0845 099 5586 or by email: wen@leighday.co.uk.  You can also contact The Law Society on 0870 606 2555 for a list of employment solicitors.