Charity reaches agreement with employee harassed over gender critical views

21 Sep 2023 News

By sebra, Adobe

Arts Council England (ACE) has announced that it has reached an agreement outside of court with Denise Fahmy, its former employee who won a harassment case against the charity earlier this year. 

Civil Society understands that ACE will not be appealing the decision of the Leeds employment tribunal, which found ACE had created a “hostile environment” after Fahmy expressed her gender critical beliefs. 

Fahmy had defended fellow charity LGB Alliance after a senior staff member at ACE said it had a “history of anti-trans activity” in a large meeting, saying it was “not anti-trans”. 

An email and comments shared by staff following the meeting had created an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the claimant”, the judgment said.

The judgment stated Fahmy’s gender critical beliefs were protected as a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010. 

Civil Society understands that a financial payment was made as part of the agreement to the claimant. 

ACE: ‘We are sorry’

An ACE spokesperson said: “We respect the findings of the judgment and are sorry that despite the actions we took at the time, a member of our team experienced harassment at work. 

“We are committed to making sure that similar instances do not happen again, and that we are an organisation where every staff member, no matter who they are, or what beliefs they hold, is treated with dignity and respect, and ultimately feel they belong.”
In a statement, Fahmy thanked her lawyers, the trustees of LGB Alliance and Maya Forstater, who won a similar case against the Centre for Global Development. A crowdfunder raised £46,145 for Fahmy’s legal costs. 

Fahmy thanked those who donated and said: “Your words, your contributions and your support enabled me to win my case and prove that thanks to Maya Forstater people that believe sex is binary and immutable and cannot change should no longer be harassed at work for saying so.

“Many people working in the arts are deeply affected by the intolerance within the sector. I hope my case has helped shine a light on that. I will continue to fight for freedom of expression in the arts.”

Fahmy resigned from ACE as its relationship manager in April this year, and in May took her employer to an employment tribunal. She won the case in June. 

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