Tribunal finds Scottish charity discriminated against employee over gender critical views

20 May 2024 News

Adobe, by Vitalii Vodolazskyi

Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre unlawfully discriminated against an employee over her belief that people cannot change sex and unfairly constructively dismissed her, an employment tribunal has concluded.

The written judgment says that Adams was subject to an investigation “all about” her “gender critical” beliefs, which it describes as a “heresy hunt”.

“Her resignation was caused by the respondent’s unlawful breach of contract,” it says.

“Their breach went to the very root of the contract. The claimant could have absolutely no confidence going forward that the respondents would comply with their obligation of trust and confidence towards her.

“This obligation had been comprehensively breached by them up to that point. The tribunal’s view was that the claimant’s claim of unfair constructive dismissal succeeds.”

Any potential compensation due will be decided at a future remedy hearing.

Judgment background

The judgment reads that whilst supportive of individuals who are trans the claimant does not believe that gender identity is in all circumstances more important than sex.

In April 2021 staff were told that Mridul Wadhwa had been appointed as the charity’s new CEO.

“There was considerable press controversy about this appointment at the time” on the basis that Wadhwa was a trans woman, the judgment says, “who did not have a gender recognition certificate and was thus legally male”.

The claimant “was initially happy” with Wadhwa’s appointment as CEO, the judgment says, as she felt that it would be helpful to have staff representing the range of service users using the service.

“She did, however, feel that it was important to allow people to have choice on the basis of sex”, it says, and felt that the respondent’s view that sex did not matter was wrong.

Charity ‘saddened’ by outcome

The charity said it was “saddened” by the outcome of the tribunal and that its practices were being reviewed by Rape Crisis Scotland, of which it is a member.

“We will now take time to reflect on the written judgment,” a statement from the charity’s board reads.

“We strive to provide a safe accessible and inclusive service and are committed to improving continuously.

“We are fully supportive of Rape Crisis Scotland’s commissioning of an independent review of ERCC practice.

“This will help ensure our practices and procedures meet the highest standards as set out in the Rape Crisis National Service Standards, and that survivors receive the exceptional quality of support they deserve.

“We want to reassure all survivors who are currently accessing our services and anyone seeking support that we are still here for you, and you matter to us. Our services remain unaffected by these events.”

In a statement published in January, Rape Crisis Scotland said: “Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre is an autonomous member centre and as such, Rape Crisis Scotland was not involved in any of the circumstances leading to the tribunal and cannot comment on the proceedings, which are ongoing.”

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