Primark has been reprimanded and forced to pay nearly £50,000 in compensation to a former trans employee after they were harassed and constructively dismissed.
Alexandra de Souza E Souza received £47,433 following an Employment Tribunal in which the budget fashion retailer was found to have failed to deal with the issue properly and did not have “proper systems from the outset to preserve confidentiality for transgender employees”.
In August 2016, De Souza E Souza informed the company she was trans and would like to referred to as Alexandra.
The retailer informed her they would have to use her previous name Alexander for pay, but she could use her preferred name on her name badge.
However, before she started work at Primark Oxford Circus, the HR department changed her name on the IT system to Alexander and her title to Mr, which was subsequently printed on her name badge and daily allocation sheets handed to supervisors.
Supervisors and staff reportedly subjected her to unfair treatment, including spraying her with mens perfume, and calling her “a joke”.
De Souza E Souza complained to Primark, but the court heard these were not taken seriously and she was simply told to “calm down”.
She subsequently resigned which the judge ruled as constructive dismissal because of Primark’s lack of action on the matter.
“All this may well have been prevented had there been proper systems from the outset to preserve confidentiality for transgender employees,” Judge Lewis said.
“We find it shocking that the respondents could not devise a way of keeping the claimant’s legal name off the core allocation sheets and out of the knowledge of her supervisors”.
Along with the compensation payment, Primark was ordered to put in place a “written policy” on dealing with new staff who are transr or wish to undergo gender reassignment.
Primark responded to the ruling.
“Primark is an equal opportunities employer and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, against any person, on any grounds,” it stated.
“All policies relating to our people are based on fair treatment for all, to ensure the promotion and practice of equality of opportunity.
“We are extremely disappointed that on this occasion our usual high standards in implementing these policies were not met and we sincerely apologise to the employee in question for this.
“We remain fully committed to equal opportunities and are reviewing our internal policies and training to ensure similar issues do not arise in the future.”