November 1, 2019
In the case of Mackereth v The Department for Work and Pensions and Others, the Claimant was a Christian Doctor, who lost his job with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), after refusing to identify transgender individuals by their chosen gender, instead insisting on using their biological sex, because he claimed it was against his religious beliefs.
The DWP’S policy is that all transgender people should be addressed and referred to by their preferred pronoun and name, so when Dr Mackereth refused, he was told that he could not work with patients and was later dismissed. Dr Mackereth subsequently brought various claims in the Employment Tribunal, including a claim for discrimination on the ground of religion or belief.
The Tribunal dismissed all of Dr Mackereth’s claims and held that his beliefs were “incompatible with human dignity and conflicted with the fundamental rights of transgender individuals”, and as such his beliefs were not protected under the Equality Act 2010 and would in itself be unlawful discrimination or harassment under the Act. The Tribunal also concluded that any person who refused to adhere to the policy, would have been treated in the same way, it was not because of Dr Mackereth’s Christian beliefs.
The case helps demonstrate the importance of employers implementing equal opportunities policies and training to prevent discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.