Equality agency intervenes in gender identity cases


TWO CASES involving people suffering from gender identity disorder were settled following the intervention of the Equality Authority, according to its annual report, which is being launched today.

This follows a landmark case in the High Court last year where Mr Justice Liam McKechnie pointed to the absence of any move towards legislative reform in this area, despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

In one of the cases brought by the Equality Authority a worker, who is a male to female transsexual, complained that she had been discriminated against by her employer who dismissed her when she presented in her new gender, following gender reassignment treatment during her annual leave.

She suffered from depression as a result of being deprived of her employment, and took proceedings claiming both gender discrimination and that her employer had failed to make reasonable accommodation for her depression, which has been categorised as a disability.

A detailed legal submission was lodged on her behalf with the Equality Tribunal. The case was settled prior to the hearing by the payment of a sum of money, but without admission of liability.

In the second case a woman who was registered at birth as male but who also suffered from gender identity disorder and was undergoing treatment to change her gender, and who had changed her name by deed poll, sought to have her Intermediate and Leaving Certificates amended to reflect her new name.

The State Examinations Commission said that this was not possible, and she sought the assistance of the Equality Authority. A complaint was lodged under the Equal Status Acts and correspondence ensued with the State Examinations Commission, as a result of which it undertook a review of its practice in relation to the reissuing of certificates. The woman has since received her new certificate and has withdrawn her complaint.

Meanwhile, in a case under the Employment Equality Acts, a Moldovan man claimed discrimination on the grounds of race. He was recruited in Moldova to work in what he was told was a furniture factory in Ireland. He worked under a work permit obtained by his employer, who took his ID and other documents.

When he arrived in Ireland he was told there was no work for him, and was placed with a recruitment agency owned by the respondent. He worked for various companies for long hours, but received no payment other than small amounts for food and petrol.

He did not speak English and did not have his identity documents, and was therefore unable to look for other work. His case was taken by the Equality Authority to the Equality Tribunal.

On the day of the hearing a substantial sum was paid by the respondent, without admitting liability.