Going on to the Employment Tribunal

Why my case is carrying on, why it matters, how you can help! (please donate)

In March 2019 I lost my job at the Center for Global Development over tweeting and writing about sex and gender identity, and sharing campaign material about the negative impacts of the UK government’s then proposed policy of ‘gender self-ID’ on women and girls.

(You can read: the story of what happened, my pleaded case and my employer’s response, 5 myths and truths about the case)

The case has been generously supported by thousands of people, and has already changed the legal landscape and provided protection for people at work. But the case is still only at the beginning.

I need to again ask for your help for the full hearing, which will establish whether I was discriminated against at work.

This article set out what has happened so far, and what is going to happen next and why I still need your help.

The Times — 5 May 2019

Losing at the Employment Tribunal

The first part of my case to be heard was a “preliminary hearing” on the question of whether ‘gender critical’ beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010. The tribunal had to answer just two questions — whether gender critical belief, and lack of belief in gender ideology were both protected.

Following a six day hearing in November 2019, and Employment Judge James Tayler declared my belief “not worthy of respect in a democratic society). (You can read: my witness statement, tweets from the hearing, the judgment).

I appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The Index on Censorship, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission also intervened in the case. (You can read: our argument, all supporting documents, EHRC argument, Index on Censorship Skeleton argument, CGD argument)

Winning at the Employment Appeal Tribunal!

In June 2021 the Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned the original judgment and substituted a new one, declaring that holding gender critical beliefs is recognised as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

This is an important judgment which sets a precedent. It means it is unlawful for employers and service providers to discriminate against or harass employees or customers simply for holding or expressing such beliefs, and also for co-workers to do so.

The EAT found that my beliefs are widely shared, and are consistent with the law on sex and gender. Holding or expressing such beliefs does not inherently interfere with the rights of trans people, even though some people may find them offensive or even distressing.

This does not mean that people with gender critical views can ‘indiscriminately’ or ‘gratuitously’ refuse to use a trans colleague’s preferred pronouns. To do so may constitute unlawful harassment of that person. But expressing gender critical views does not necessarily constitute harassment and whether it does in any given situation is a highly fact-sensitive question.

Hundreds of people have already told me how this judgment is helping them to feel safer and more confident to speak up and to challenge discriminatory policies and practices at work, in political parties, membership organisations and as users of social media and other services. It is changing the climate of the debate now that the spurious accusation of “transphobia“ are not immediately career-ending.

(You can read: the judgment, a summary by my barristers, an analysis of the implications by my solicitor)

This is just the beginning of my case

On 7 March 2022, three full years after I lost my job, the case of what happened will finally be heard at the London Central Employment Tribunal.

I will be cross examined, and both sides will call other witnesses.

CGD have told the tribunal that if it is found that their policies and criteria created a disadvantage for people who share my belief, for they will be relying on the following as “legitimate aims” to defend their behaviour:

  • Providing a safe working environment for all staff, including trans persons, free from discrimination and harassment and ensuring their wellbeing and dignity at work.
  • Promoting their values as an inclusive organisation.

They argue that these aims justify a policy that has a discriminatory effect on people with gender critical beliefs. It is important for everyone that I show that there are legal protections in practice for people with gender critical beliefs.

At a hearing in August the list of question that the tribunal has to answer next year was agreed. There are 29 questions and 12 days to answer them.

The Questions for the Tribunal

DIRECT BELIEF DISCRIMINATION

Did CGD or other respondents:

  • decide not to give Maya Forstater an employment contract to work on the Gates Foundation funded project she had helped to develop, and other projects? (Nov 2018)
  • subject Maya Forstater to an investigation for expressing her beliefs on Twitter? (Late 2018-Early 2019)
  • deny Maya Forstater any information about the complaints against her or any opportunity to explain or defend herself?
  • decide not to renew Maya Forstater’s visiting fellowship? (Feb 2019)
  • decide not to engage Maya Forstater on a consultancy contract for the Gates funded project? (March 2019)

If so, in doing so they treat Maya Forstater less favourably than a hypothetical comparator:

  • who did not hold gender critical belief?
  • who did hold the gender ideology belief?

If so was this less favourable treatment due to belief or lack of belief?

HARASSMENT

Did this conduct:

  • constitute unwanted conduct related to the protected characteristic of belief?
  • have the purpose or effect of violating her dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment?

INDIRECT BELIEF DISCRIMINATION
Did CGD or other respondents:

  • apply a provision, criterion or practice (PCP) against expressing gender critical beliefs on Twitter? (and was this a personal Twitter account?)
  • if so did this put people holding the gender critical belief at a particular disadvantage compared to those who do not hold that belief?
  • if so did it put Maya Forstater at that disadvantage?
  • if so is the PCP a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim?

SEX DISCRIMINATION

  • did this PCP put women at a particular disadvantage, because women are more likely to hold gender critical beliefs and to hold them strongly?
  • if so did it put Maya Forstater at that disadvantage?
  • if so is the PCP a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim?

VICTIMISATION

Did Maya Forstater do the following acts?

  • say to Masood Ahmed, President of CGD, in a telephone call that sex is a protected characteristic under UK law?
  • say to Masood Ahmed that as a woman standing up for women’s rights, she had been told that she was not welcome?
  • write in an email to Masood Ahmed that “the reason for the lack of consensus is because some people object to my view on sex and gender identity, as reflected on Twitter”?
  • present this claim to the employment tribunal?
  • on 9 April advise CGD that she had lodged a claim for discrimination in the employment tribunal?
  • on 5 May 2019, launch a Crowdfunder making public the fact of her tribunal claim and co-operate with the Sunday Times ?

If so did these acts or any of them constitute a “protected act” or did CGD believe that Maya Forstater had done or may do a protected act?

Did CGD subject Maya Forstater to the following detriments:

  • send her an email on 5 March 2018 effectively withdrawing the offer to continue working on the Gates project as a consultant?
  • remove her online profile as a former Visiting Fellow contrary to its practice of maintaining profiles on its website?

If so was this because of the protected acts?

TIME LIMITS

  • are any of the claims out of time?
  • if so, do they constitute conduct extending over a period which ended in time?
  • if not, is it just and equitable to extend time?

All of this will take a lot of work for me and my legal team to prepare over the next few months.

My legal team

We have deadlines to get the disclosures done in October, the evidence bundle in November and the witness statements before the end of December.

Winning this case is important because it will show that protection for gender critical beliefs is not just something we have in theory, but something that works in practice. This will make employers and service providers pay attention.

And it will get justice for me: an ordinary woman who lost a job she was good at because she wanted to take part in democratic discussion about women’s rights.

Will you support me to fight for justice, against discrimination and for open debate?

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/stand-with-maya/

This is mainly where I write about sex and gender