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Secret reference amounted to victimisation

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An employment tribunal has found that Brighton and Hove City Council and one of its senior managers discriminated against and victimised a former employee on the grounds of gender reassignment.

The individual, known as X, was supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission. X claimed lost opportunities to obtain work when a senior line manager revealed X’s change of gender and former name in a fax to a recruitment agency.

In addition, the line manager delayed responding to X’s request for a reference; referred to X as both ‘he or she’, ‘him’ and ‘her’; revealed to the agency that X had previously raised proceedings alleging discrimination and offered to have further telephone conversations with agency staff about X.

It was only after X had contacted the agency directly some months later, because the agency had refused to provide X with any work, that X discovered the existence of the secret fax. The council had failed to reveal its existence when originally asked to by X.

The tribunal found that both the council and the manager had further discriminated against and victimised X by refusing for a second time to provide X with a reference for another post a year later and by refusing to hear X’s grievance over the second refusal.

The council also refused to use existing Criminal Records Bureau procedures for transgender people and ignored EOC guidance on the employment of transgender people.

A hearing to consider compensation will take place in 2007 but the council has already appealed to the employment appeal tribunal.

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