A transsexual sales manager ordered to switch from male to female status at her employer’s whim has won more than $50,000 in a compensation claim.
Louise Hannon, born a male, has said she feels vindicated after winning her gender discrimination case against her former employers First Direct Logistics Ltd.
The 50-year-old, from Arbour Hill in Dublin’s north inner city, took the precedent-setting case to the Equality Tribunal after she was told to work from home as a ‘man’ after she had changed her name by deed poll to Louise.
“It’s closure. It means I can get on with my life,” said Hogan, the first transsexual worker to successfully use Ireland’s Employment Equality Act in a case of discrimination on the grounds of transsexualism.
Hannon had worked as a business development manager for the company as a man for five years before she told her employers she was a transsexual.
The Tribunal was told she had informed the company she would be quitting after the announcement as she didn’t think a transport firm would be ‘comfortable’ with it.
The Irish Independent reports that Hannon was encouraged to stay in her job in December 2006 by company officials but when she reported for work as a woman the following March, she was told she would have to work the phones in her ‘male identity’ from home.
She was also told that, while a new office was set up, she would have to revert to a male identity when meeting clients and was forbidden from using the women’s toilet at work.
The company then refused her permission to return to work at their offices and was told that her presence: ‘caused a bad atmosphere’.
Hannon left the company that July and claimed she had been constructively dismissed.
The Equality Officer investigating the case found that: “Requesting Ms Hannon to switch between a male/female identity whenever the respondent felt the need for it constituted direct discrimination on the gender and disability grounds.”
A spokesman for the firm has since apologised to Hannon who was diagnosed as having Gender Identity Disorder, a psychiatric condition in which a person believes they were born in the wrong gender.
“She was a popular and respected member of staff,” the spokesman told the Independent. “We regret the circumstances in which we failed to provide a full level of support and understanding.”
The Tribunal also heard that Hannon is currently on hormone therapy and is pursuing a new career as a photographer.
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