Transgender woman brings discrimination claim against courier company in latest “gig economy” case
A transgender woman, known as Hayley Stanley, has brought a discrimination claim against the courier company Gnewt Cargo and its parent company Menzies Distribution.
Hayley worked for Gnewt Cargo as a van driver between May 2014 and January 2018 when she was dismissed for an alleged incident of misconduct. She claims she suffered bullying and harassment over a three year period due to her gender reassignment and that when she tried to raise her concerns with management she was ignored.
Gnewt Cargo classify Hayley as an ‘independent contractor’. Unlike ‘workers’ or employees’, independent contractors are not entitled to certain workplace benefits and protections, such as holiday pay and the National Minimum Wage and are not afforded protection under discrimination legislation.
However, Hayley, who is backed by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, argues that she was not an independent contractor and had the right not to be discriminated against. To succeed in this argument, she will have to show that her contract obliged her to do the work personally (so she could not subcontract the work to anyone else) and that she worked under Gnewt Cargo’s direction. Courts will look at the reality of the relationship and not just at what the contract says.
This case joins a series of cases which have been brought against companies in the so-called “gig economy”. Many of these cases have been won by individuals who have been wrongly or bogusly labelled as ‘independent contractors’ and as a result denied rights afforded to ‘workers’ and ‘employees’. These cases have typically focused on wage issues, such as holiday pay, rather than discrimination. To win her case, Hayley will not only have the hurdle of showing that she qualified for protection but also that she was treated less favourably because of her gender reassignment.
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