I have been overwhelmed with support and congratulatory wishes for which I am greatly appreciative.
Full text of the Press release by the Equality Authority today.
Press Release For immediate release 18th April 2011
Equality Authority Welcomes ‘ground breaking’ decision awarding 35,000
euros to a Transsexual Worker.
The Equality Authority today welcomed a ground breaking decision by the
Equality Tribunal for a transsexual worker, represented by the Equality
Authority, in a gender and disability case. Louise Hannon was awarded in
excess of 35,000 euros for the discrimination endured. “Transsexual people
are born into a society which is not structured to cater for their own
identity. The journey undertaken by transsexual people to recognise their
own identity, as being different from their assigned identity, involves a
process and decision making that is both courageous and beyond the capacity
of many to fully appreciate” said Chairperson Angela Kerins.
“With the diagnostic progress made in recent decades to recognise this
disorder, it is fair and essential that society assists transsexual people
to make this journey by removing as many obstacles for discrimination as
possible. I am pleased the Employment Equality Acts have proven to be
robust in the defence of transsexual rights in the workplace. The Equality
Authority has already made a submission to the transgender recognition
group and looks forward to further legislative progress for this important
minority, still invisible in many aspects of Irish life, with the
publication of their Report” concluded Ms Kerins.
The complainant was diagnosed with Gender Identity disorder and is a male
to female transsexual. The complainant had been employed by the respondent
as a Business Development Manager from January 2007 having previously
worked with the company in a self employed capacity for approximately five
years. Ms Hannon claimed that since she had informed her employer of her
true identity and her need to live in this identity her work conditions
were made so intolerable that she was ultimately constructively dismissed
as a result of her transition from male to female.
The Equality Officer stated that transsexualism is a recognised medical
condition which is treated by a combination of hormone therapy, surgery (in
some cases) and “real life experience”. The Equality Officer went on to
state that to gain “real life experience the person must be able to live
their life continuously in the other sex without the need to revert to the
birth sex”. This applied to the work place and that there is an obligation
on employers to accommodate such “real life experience” she added.
The Equality Officer found that the plan formulated by the company to allow
the transition from male to female was clearly a unilateral approach which
had not been fully explored with the complainant. The Equality Officer was
satisfied that requesting Ms Hannon to switch between a male/female
identity whenever the respondent felt the need for it constituted direct
discrimination on the gender and disability grounds. The Equality Officer
was not satisfied that the company had a genuine business need for the
complainant to work from home. She found that had Ms Hannon remained in
her male identity she would not have been requested to work from home. She
concluded that the request to work from home was discriminatory on both the
gender and disability grounds.
April 18th 2011
The Equality Officer found that the Respondent had little if any
understanding that the gender transition process was a form of treatment
relevant to the complainant’s condition. She was satisfied that an
employer has a duty to obtain enough knowledge about an employee’s
disclosed disability to ensure that their actions do not discriminate
against a person whose disability may require the person to behave or act
in a certain way. While the Equality Officer found the complainant did not
require reasonable accommodation per se, she did require a workplace that
recognised her right to dress and be identified as a female. The Equality
Officer pointed out that the difficulties concerning the complainants
gender lay entirely with the respondent and that it was apparent that the
company presumed that there would be negative consequences because of the
complainant’s female identity.
The Equality Officer found that the complainant had suffered discriminatory
treatment on the grounds of gender and disability. The Equality Officer
found that Ms Hannon received no relevant support from the company and was
isolated in her home from late April 2007. She found that the respondent’s
approach amounted to discriminatory dismissal on the gender and disability
grounds. The issue of victimisation was raised in relation to ex-gratia
payments but this was not upheld. The Equality Officer awarded redress in
the sum of €35, 422.71. She also ordered the company to pay the
complainant interest at the courts rate on the award.
For Further information please contact: Brian Merriman, Head of
Communications, The Equality Authority at 01-4173368 or 087 6573732.
Louise Hannon v First Direct Logistics Ltd.
Decision No. DEC-E2011-066 Ground: Gender and
When Ms Hannon initially revealed her true identity to the company in
October 2006 she intended to resign her position to work in an open
environment but was persuaded to remain on. In December 2006 the
complainant sought to clarify when she could begin to change over to her
female identity at work and was asked to wait a couple of months to allow a
new staff member to settle in.
Ms Hannon had an appointment to change her name by deed poll on 5th March
2007 and arrived in the office the following day in her true gender using
her female identity. She requested that her email be changed over to her
new name. Ms Hannon was told that she must complete her sales over the
phone in her male identity and that the Operations Manager would meet any
clients personally should the need arise and that she may have to work
using her male identity until Christmas 2007. Later that month the
Operations Manager approached Ms Hannon and expressed concerns about her
productivity. The complainant claims she was asked to revert to her male
identity for another three month period. The Director of the company
subsequently agreed that she could return to the office dressed as a woman
but asked that she change into her male identity when seeing clients. Ms
Hannon found this request very difficult to comply with and she dealt with
clients over the phone instead although she did meet with client companies
in her male identity on two occasions. The complainant also claims that
she was asked not to use the female toilets.
April 18th 2011
In April 2007 the Complainant was asked if she would move to the new office
where she could work in her female identity but was asked if she could work
from home until such time as the office was set up. The complainant agreed
as she understood this to be a brief interim period of one month.
The complainant found it very difficult to work from home as her leads
dried up when she was out of the office environment. However, despite
requests the complainant was not allowed to return to the office and was
informed that a new person had started and there was no room for her. On
19th July 2007 the Director contacted her to inform her that he was not
happy with her work and that she needed to produce new clients in the next
weeks if she wanted to keep her job. Ms Hannon subsequently met with the
Director and requested that she be allowed to return to the office but her
request was refused on the basis that her presence caused a bad atmosphere.
The complainant decided that she had no alternative but to leave her
employment at the end of July 2007.
In response to Ms Hannon’s complaint First Direct Logistics Ltd claimed
that they had provided the necessary supports to her to enable her pursue
her gender transition.
The respondent argued that they had met with the complainant and formulated
a plan to deal with the transition. The plan included:
· At an agreed time the respondents staff would be informed of the
complainants gender identity disorder
· The complainant would continue to contact current clients as “John
Smith” and generate new clients in her new identity.
· The complainant would continue to fulfil her transport duties whilst
she remained with the name “John”
· At an agreed time the complainant would stop wearing male clothing.
The respondent claimed that Ms Hannon’s productivity reduced dramatically
in early 2007. The company submitted that despite their efforts to
accommodate the complainant she was depressed and unhappy and failed to
make phone calls to generate new business. The company claimed that in
April 2007 it decided that no further sales work would take place in its
old premises and that this function would be moved to a dedicated premises
upon their completion. The respondent accepted that it had asked the
complainant to work from home which she had agreed to do and it had
increased her wages as a gesture of good will. The respondent accepted
that the complainant was the only employee asked to work from home but that
this was because she was the only employee working in this area. The
respondent claimed that the complainant’s productivity continued to
deteriorate and that she subsequently secured alternative employment at the
end of July 2007.
The Equality Officer stated that it was well established in law that the
gender ground protects transgender persons from sex discrimination and she
made reference to the European Court of Justice approach in P v S and
Cornwall County Council (Case C-13/9). The Equality Officer also noted
that it was accepted by the parties that the complainant who had been
diagnosed with gender identity disorder had a disability and that the
company was on notice of this fact.
April 18th 3/3