Transsexual worker awarded €35,000

Monday 18 April 2011 22.07
Louise Hannon - Equality Tribunal ruled in her favour
Louise Hannon - Equality Tribunal ruled in her favour

A transsexual worker has been awarded more than €35,000 because her employer requested her to switch between a male and a female identity and to work from home.

The Equality Tribunal's ruling in favour of Louise Hannon, who is a male to female transsexual, has been welcomed by the Equality Authority.

Ms Hannon had been employed by First Direct Logistics as a Business Development Manager having worked with them in a self-employed capacity for five years.

Ms Hannon claimed that since she told the company that she needed to live in her true identity, conditions were made so intolerable that she was ultimately constructively dismissed.

The equality officer said transsexualism was a recognised medical condition that is treated by a combination of hormone therapy, surgery (in some cases) and 'real life experience'.

Real life experience requires the person to live continuously in the other sex without the need to revert to the birth sex.

Ms Hannon said employers were obliged to accommodate that experience.

The officer ruled that requesting Ms Hannon to switch between a male and a female identity whenever the company deemed necessary constituted direct discrimination on the gender and disability grounds.

The officer also said that the request to work from home was discriminatory on the same grounds.

Equality Authority Chairperson Angela Kerins said that transsexual people are born into a society that is not structured to cater for their own identity.

She said 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.