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Refusing to use preferred pronouns at work

An Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld the decision that Dr Mackereth, a Christian doctor, was not discriminated against by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for refusing to refer to transgender clients by their preferred pronouns.

Dr M explained his beliefs during his induction training as the DWP policies required him to use the preferred pronouns of transgender service users. The DWP decided it could not offer him a non-facing role and would not be possible for the doctor to only assess non-transgender service users. Dr M was suspended and then summarily dismissed from the DWP ass he was not willing to comply with the policies. Dr Mackereth brought a claim to the Employment Tribunals for direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and harassment, relying upon the protected characteristic of religion or belief.

It was never in dispute that Dr M’s Christianity was a protected characteristic under the Equality act. However, Dr M had to demonstrate that his specific beliefs/lack of belief fell within the Equality Act. Dr M did not believe that a person could change their gender and that “impersonating” the opposite sex could be beneficial to an individual’s welfare. The EAT found, in a detailed 61-page Judgment, that both M’s (a) belief and (b) lack of belief were protected under the Equality Act 2010. Nevertheless, the EAT upheld the Tribunal’s findings that Dr M had not suffered direct discrimination, indirect discrimination or harassment as another employee who refused to follow the policies would have been treated the same way as Dr Mackereth.

You can read the full Judgment here: Dr David Mackereth v (1) Department for Work and Pensions and (2) Advanced Personnel Management Group UK Limited.

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