Gender Reassignment
The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 came into force in England, Scotland and Wales to prohibit discrimination against persons who change their gender. In this context, discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another on grounds that he or she is to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone, gender reassignment. Compensation for claims under the regulations which amend the Sex Discrimination Act are, like claims under the Act, not subject to any maximum limits.

Under the Sex Discrimination Act employers were, and are able to, discriminate where there is a genuine occupational qualification which predetermines that only a person of a particular sex should carry out the job. A similar exception applies to the new regulations. Thus a person subject to gender reassignment could be denied working:

- with vulnerable persons with personal services promoting their welfare where the gender reassignment would (in the reasonable opinion of the employer) render such services ineffective.

- where intimate body searches are a required part of the work.

- where the person works or lives in a private home and there may be reasonable objection to the inevitable social contract.

- where there are reasonable objections on grounds of decency and privacy and the employer cannot be reasonably expected to make alterations etc.


The incidence of such reassignments, now there is protective legislation, can be expected to increase and employers need to be ready to treat the complications created by such actions with tact, consideration and creativity.

Sexual Orientation
It is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. Employers (and those they employ or direct) must not:

- treat workers less favourably because they are, or are perceived to be, gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.

- subject workers to harassment (in which regard employers are responsible for the acts of their employees) because they (or someone connected with them - e.g. a son or daughter) have a sexual orientation.

- discriminate against a person after their employment has ended on such grounds (e.g. not providing a reference because a person is, for example, gay).


Employers may need to assess whether there is a genuine occupational requirement (GOR) for certain jobs (for example, in certain countries homosexuality is illegal and it would seem to be acceptable to employ only a person who is heterosexual for such work).

0 comments