Ongoing issues relating to the fight by some so called ‘gig economy workers’ to be reclassified as ‘employees’ has raised new issues relating to gender discrimination, following legal action by a transgender courier.
Stanley Hayley, now known as Hayley, is believed to have brought the first LGBT+ discrimination claim in the gig economy.
Hayley alleges she suffered discrimination during her time with courier company, Gnewt Cargo, based in London.
However, the courier firm disputes this, claiming that Hayley’s contract with them was terminated after an incident where, it is alleged, she deliberately damaged a warehouse door.
Hayley’s claims that she was the victim of sustained bullying and harassment in the workplace, based on her gender reassignment, but in order to bring a successful claim for discrimination she needs to establish that she was, in fact, a ‘worker’ or an ‘employee’, rather than an independent contractor.
Gnewt Cargo is defending legal action and maintains that Hayley was neither an employee nor worker of the firm but was only contracted on a self-employed basis.
Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which is backing Hayley’s case, claims that gig workers are being let down because “the government is not enforcing the law”.
“It should be protecting those working in the so-called gig economy by ensuring they are correctly classified and receiving the rights and benefits they deserve,” said Mr Moyer-Lee.
Samantha Randall, a Solicitor with Palmers, who specialises in employment law, said: “The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees and workers because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity. These are known as `protected characteristics´ and there are hefty penalties for employers who ignore these rules.
“With the abolition of employment tribunal fees, it has become far easier to bring claims than in the previous five years, so the number of ‘gig economy’ workers who feel they have been unfairly labelled as self-employed could continue to rise in the months and years to come.”
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