An employment tribunal has suggested that calling a trans woman a ‘w***er’ is discrimination because it is an insult commonly used in reference to men.
The swear word is not ‘gender-neutral’ and so using it against someone who has transitioned would constitute a breach of equality laws, a panel surmised.
The debate came after a trans bus driver Amanda Fischer sued the company where she had been working for gender reassignment discrimination and claimed that another employee called her a ‘w***er’.
The agency worker also claimed a driver drove too close to her because she is trans, which made her fear for her life, the tribunal heard.
However Miss Fischer lost her case after the panel decided the ‘w***er’ incident had not actually occurred with London United Busways also arguing that the swear word could be used against both men and women.
However, the panel suggested that if it had been used against her it would have been discrimination.
Employment judge Kathryn Patricia Ramsden said: ‘Despite the [company’s] position, the Tribunal does not consider the insult ‘w***er’ to be a gender-neutral term.
‘The panel members’ own experiences of use of that term is that it is applied to men, and that there are equivalent but different swear words that are specifically used in common parlance to insult women.’
The tribunal – heard in Croydon, south London – heard that Miss Fischer began working for London United Busways at their Hounslow bus yard in 2020 until her contract was terminated on January 15 2021.
She said she was called a ‘w***er’ by another driver on January 13, 2021, and that the company was ‘male-dominated’,
Miss Fischer told the panel that when she was telling her supervisor about an incident, a ‘tall man’ who was employed by the company called her a ‘w***er’ with a ‘serious’ facial expression.
She said he ‘pushed’ her arm with her shoulder and ‘exhibited hostility’ which made her ‘very upset’.
Miss Fischer said this was because he ‘didn’t like the look’ of her.
Representing herself, she told the tribunal: ‘I saw he didn’t accept my gender because in the workplace we have different cultures, different religions, and he is standing there with two other drivers in the middle, and looking at me in a very serious way, because he didn’t like what he could see in front of him.
‘Basically it was frightening for me.
‘He called me a swear word because he didn’t like the look of me.’
Miss Fischer’s supervisor told the panel: ‘[The driver] denied being rude to Miss Fischer at all and, in fact, said that he had not spoken to her or about her. He was surprised and confused. I said there must have been a misunderstanding.’
Two days after this incident allegedly took place, Miss Fischer was told her contract with the company had been terminated, which she told the tribunal was connected to the discrimination she faced.
However, the panel found that she wasn’t discriminated against for being a trans woman after concluding the ‘w***er’ comment hadn’t been made and dismissing her complaint about the near miss.