In what has become an increasingly polarised debate, an employment tribunal has found that the barrister, Allison Bailey was discriminated against by her Chambers, Garden Court, because of her gender critical beliefs. The backdrop to the claim was the proposed reform of the Gender Recognition Act and discussion around gender self-identity. Allison Bailey holds the gender critical view that sex is immutable. She was investigated by her Chambers following some tweets she made on the issue, which Garden Court found to be likely to breach the barristers’ core duties. The tribunal found that the Chambers had discriminated against her because of her beliefs and awarded her £22,000 for injury to feelings, including £2,000 in aggravated damages.
The tribunal was not making any judgement on the belief itself, noting that both the belief that women are defined by sex, and the belief that gender is a matter of self-identification are protected beliefs. The key is tolerance and accepting that some legitimate views may cause offence, “toleration of difference is an essential characteristic of an open, pluralist society”. Open debate should be welcomed and differing views acknowledged, but how individual’s choose to manifest their beliefs in the workplace should not be to the detriment of others.