Home / Miss AB v Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames – Council’s ‘deadnaming’ of a transgender woman leads to compensatory reward
31st October 2023
Trainee Solicitor, Jasmine Harland looks into the case of Miss AB v Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.
Miss AB transitioned her gender on 1 July 2020, informing her employer of this 8 months prior. Miss AB complained that she had not been supported by the Council and that suitable policies had not been implemented. Ms AB also alleged that there was a change in attitude towards her following her transition, specifically in relation to an email chain where she raised concerns about a project and a senior employee stated: “…or do you want her to get away with a hissing fit again?”.
Miss AB alleged that she felt that since her transition, she had been singled out on a ‘witch hunt’ and that if they wished for her to resign, she would do so on the grounds of constructive dismissal and secondary discrimination. Miss AB also stated that she would not be bullied or treated in a demeaning manner.
Miss AB’s manager did not investigate the concerns raised and instead, she was accused of making ‘baseless allegations’ and an apology was demanded from her.
Miss AB also raised concerns in relation to the continued use of her pre-transition name (referred to as “deadnaming”) and the fact that the Council’s systems were not updated after her transition. It took the Council 2 years from Miss AB’s transition to update her door pass to the correct name, which was needed to access the building and printing. Account names were also not updated, resulting in Miss AB being referred to as her deadname, together with a post-it note being placed on her locker with the ‘deadname’ crossed out and replaced with her new name. This was never investigated by the Council.
Miss AB succeeded in her claim for direct discrimination on the grounds of gender re-assignment. Within her claim, she cited no less than to 22 allegations of failures from the Respondent, which, amongst other things, included the Council’s failures to update their systems and records to reflect her affirmed gender.
The Claimant was awarded £21,000 as compensation for injury to feelings together with £4,423 interest.
It is important that employers remain aware of issues relating to gender reassignment, adopt appropriate policies and procedures and act with sensitivity and understanding, In our experience, smaller employers remain challenged particularly in terms of what can be said and done and in dealing with scenarios where there are conflicting interests and viewpoints, and in such cases it is recommended that legal advice be sought from our experts to prevent escalation, division and expensive and high profile litigation.