Social media and personal beliefs

An employee who posted comments on social media relating to her belief that a person’s sex is a material reality and cannot be changed, was reported to her employer. Following an investigation, the employer determined that the comments were offensive and the employee’s contract was not renewed.

However, an employment tribunal found that the action of the employer amounted to discrimination because the employee’s statements reflected her gender-critical beliefs which were protected under the Equality Act 2010. She expressed them clearly and in context and did not make any personal or derogatory statement in the comments.

This particular case decision highlights that unfavourable treatment because a person holds gender critical beliefs can amount to direct discrimination, even if those beliefs might be offensive to some.

What is important is that employers make clear to employees that if beliefs are manifested in a manner that is unreasonable and offensive may result in action being taken against them. Whilst the belief is protected, disclosing it in a way that is offensive will not be protected.

Should you have any questions on how to deal with potential discrimination issues in the workplace, please contact 121 HR Solutions on 0800 9995 121 for advice.

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