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Primark faces £47k bill for transgender discrimination

13 February 2018
A retail assistant at Primark’s Oxford Street was constructively dismissed from her position at the store after being harassed for being transgender. An employment tribunal has told Primark to adopt a policy on how to deal with transgender staff after it found an employee was discriminated against in relation to gender reassignment. The employment tribunal held that this was a case of direct gender reassignments discrimination as the store failed to deal with the matter appropriately. The employee was awarded £47,433.03 in compensation to cover injury to feelings and loss of pay and pension contributions. Background Alexandra de Souza E Souza informed Primark that she was transgender when she applied for a role in August 2016. Her birth name – Alexander – appeared on her passport, but she told the interviewer that she would like to be called Alexandra. The interviewer said the company had to use her official name for pay, but she could use whatever name she liked on her name badge. Before she began the role, HR staff erroneously changed the preferred first name on the company’s IT system from Alexandra to Alexander, and her title from Miss to Mr. This error was printed on her name badge and daily allocation sheets that were handed to supervisors on the shop floor. Despite using her preferred name for a number of weeks, a supervisor began calling her Alexander and laughed when she was corrected. Other staff also subjected her to unfair treatment on the basis of her gender identity. She alleged that staff sprayed men’s perfume over her till until she started coughing, said she had “a man’s voice”, made comments about her sexuality, and called her “evil” and “a joke”. Complaints were made about the way other employees had treated her, including an incident when a colleague claimed there were “no ladies” in the female toilets when an electrician needed access, despite de Souza E Souza being there. She claimed her complaints were not taken seriously and she was simply told to calm down as she was “drawing attention to herself”. The judge found that she was constructively dismissed by the company as the lack of action and remarks made about her transgender status led to her resignation.

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