Transgender van driver issues first LGBT+ discrimination claim in the Gig economy

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Employment Rights in the Gig economy have been in the headlines quite a lot over the past couple of years focusing on various businesses denying their workers various rights for example the national living wage, and holiday pay.  Typical workers have been Uber and Deliveroo drivers, Couriers, and plumbers.

Another claim has been issued against a Gig economy business where for the first time a transsexual woman called Hayley Stanley is claiming discrimination against her by her former employer – Gnewt Cargo and its parent company – Menzies Distribution, on the basis of her gender reassignment.

Hayley’s role and responsibilities were to load parcels onto a van and then to drive them across London and she worked for Gnewt Cargo from May 2014 to January 2018.

Gnewt Cargo classed Hayley as an independent contractor, however she believes that she is a worker if not an employee and is therefore entitled to worker’s rights and benefits.  This is key because if Hayley is an independent contractor then she has no discrimination rights that she can pursue in the employment tribunal.  If she is however an employee or a worker then she can pursue her rights.

During the course of her time at Gwent Cargo, Hayley encountered taunts from colleagues for example they laughed at her when she had to physically move 70 boxes out of her bay before she could start work.  Her bicycle was also tampered with and the front wheel came off whilst she cycled home.  She complained to Gnewt Cargo about her treatment but it fell on deaf ears and nothing was done about the situation.

Gwent Cargo however are disputing that Hayley was discriminated against and that the reason they brought the arrangements to an end was because she purposefully damaged the main roller shutter door of their premises by ramming it with a loaded pallet truck.  This they say was captured on CCTV and that they would have treated any other independent contractor in the same way.

The case is being supported once again by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain who have supported other workers in pursuing their rights.  Their  reasons are simple and are based on the fact that the Government is not enforcing the law and on a point of principle.  The Unions’s General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee states ‘If you are being discriminated against in any form, you should be able to bring some sort of justice to bear on these people.

No doubt this case will be watched with keen interest to determine whether Hayley is in fact an employee or a worker and can therefore proceed with her discrimination claim.

Whatever the outcome of Hayley’s status it just cannot be right that she suffers work place discrimination and cannot do anything about it and on this basis this should be challenged.  The ideal solution would be for the Government to legislate in this area to clarify once and for all the rights of workers in the Gig economy.

Finally a Government survey shows that 4.4% of UK workers have worked in the Gig economy or around 2.8 million people and the numbers are growing.   Even more reason to legislate to clarify employment rights for such workers.

If you are a victim of unlawful discrimination at work or would like advice as an employer on introducing anti-discrimination policies then contact Steven Eckett, Head of Employment at Meaby & Co for timely advice: seckett@meaby.co.uk or call 0207 703 5034.

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