In an article published in Employment Law Journal, Monica Kurnatowska and Rachel Farr assess the impact on employers of the EAT’s decision that ‘gender-critical’ beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010.
- Forstater v CGD Europe (2021, Employment Appeal Tribunal) is the latest in a line of cases considering the conflict between the rights of trans people and of those who hold gender-critical beliefs, whether for religious reasons or otherwise.
- The case focuses on the principles of freedom of speech and held that the claimant’s belief was protected under the Equality Act 2010.
- Employers will be watching this area closely for guidance on how to handle employee conflict fairly and lawfully, while respecting the rights of all involved.
- What is and what is not a lawful manifestation of a belief will depend on the facts before any tribunal. While there is no right not to be offended, employees are entitled to be protected from harassment, so the tribunal will be expected to examine how an individual. The decision does not mean, for example, that those with gender-critical beliefs can misgender trans people with impunity.
- Policies, including disciplinary policies and staff codes of conduct, should reflect the importance of respect at work. All employees, whatever their views or protected characteristics, are expected to be civil to each other and not to allow their personal beliefs to affect working relationships.
- This article was originally published in Employment Law Journal, July 2021 #222 (www.lawjournals.co.uk).
Click here to access the full article and guidance for employers.