A gender-fluid engineer who was branded "IT" by bullying workmates at Jaguar Land Rover has been awarded £180,000 after winning a landmark discrimination case.
Rose Taylor, 43, was teased and harassed by colleagues at the car manufacturer after she began identifying as gender fluid/non-binary in 2017.
An employment tribunal heard how she suffered insults and abusive jokes from co-workers after she started wearing women's clothes.
One colleague asked her if her outfit "was for Halloween” while another contractor told her: “It’s nice to see you in this attire. You have cracking legs.”
Another worker asked her “So what’s going on? Are you going to have your bits chopped off?” while she overheard two others say: "Have you seen IT in the atrium?”
One female co-worker also described her as “not normal” when she announced she was transitioning and she was also told to use the staff disabled toilet.
Another asked her why the "top half didn't match the bottom half" while a different colleague said: “I was checking out your dress, saw it was you, and my jaw dropped."
The hearing in Birmingham was told how on one occasion a male worker laughed at her when she suggested he wear a rainbow lanyard - a symbol of support for LGBTQ pride.
Taylor claimed constructive dismissal and victimisation on the basis she had suffered discrimination because of gender reassignment and sexual orientation.
An employment judge in Birmingham ruled in her favour.
The victory is believed to be the first successful claim of its kind and was hailed as a "milestone" in recognising the rights of non-binary and gender fluid people.
Until now, there was uncertainty over whether The Equality Act protected those who who fell into the gender fluid/non-binary category.
JLR argued it did not but employment judge Pauline Hughes said it was clear "gender is a spectrum” and that it was “beyond any doubt” Taylor should be protected.
On Friday Taylor wiped away tears as she was awarded a £180,000 payout from her former employer.
Hughes said: "Hopefully your case will bring about real change. That is what we would all wish to see. The response has been extremely positive.
“The entire history of equality and equality movement has individuals such as the claimant who have made a difference.
"The likes of Rosa Parks, Doctor Martin Luther King, Harvey Milk, Baroness Jane Campbell, Viv Anderson, Baroness Hayle and Notorious RBG.
"In our opinion Rose has made a difference.
“Because she brought the case hopefully what happened to her will not happen to anyone else again at JLR.”
Hughes added: “I can see JLR has taken the findings seriously. That is a positive thing."
The tribunal was told Taylor, who worked for JLR as a navigation engineer for 20 years, changed the way she presented three years ago.
But she suffered various insults after she began mainly wearing women's clothes at the company's factory in Coventry before she resigned in 2008.
The tribunal judgement ruled "the claimant has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment" and the allegations of harassment were “well-founded” and that Taylor had been “constructively unfairly dismissed.”
Barrister Robin White said: “Rose is pleased particularly because the case will make a difference for other people at JLR and more widely.
“The case has changed the law and clarified protections for gender fluid and non-binary people and what they need at work.
“Rose is particularly pleased to see the real impact this could have on other people.
“We are relieved to hear them say they got it badly wrong, but would have preferred them to admit that earlier rather than fighting us to the finish.”
Robbie de Santos, head of campaigns and communications at the charty Stonewall, hailed the case as a ‘landmark’.
He told Yahoo News UK: “We’re extremely pleased for Rose, whose landmark case is likely to have a huge impact on non-binary and gender fluid people across the country.
“Until now, it’s not been clear whether non-binary people were protected under the Equality Act 2010, so this Employment Tribunal judgment will be key in supporting future judicial decisions and creates the potential for even more non-binary and gender fluid people to be protected from harassment and discrimination in all areas of their lives.”
Dave Williams, JLR's executive director of HR, told Yahoo News UK: "On behalf of Jaguar Land Rover, I would like to apologise to Ms Taylor for the experiences she had during her employment with us.
"We continue to strive to improve in this area and we respect the outcome of the case. We welcome the recommendations and will implement these to strengthen our diversity and inclusion strategy, which has been developed in consultation with our employee-led networks and our board sponsored diversity and inclusion steering committee.
"Jaguar Land Rover does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are committed to creating an environment where everyone can flourish, where our employees feel listened to, understood, supported and valued equally.
"We continue to work with our leaders, employees and employee-led diversity networks to foster a diverse, inclusive and gender-balanced culture that is representative of the society in which we live."
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