Protecting LGBT staff at Jaguar Land Rover from harassment

Case name: Jaguar Land Rover Section 23 Agreement

Car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover signed a legal agreement with us to improve its policies and practices in relation to equality and diversity.

Background

The agreement and action plan came after a tribunal case where a non-binary employee, Ms Taylor, successfully brought claims against her employer - Jaguar Land Rover - saying she had suffered abuse and a lack of support.

Ms Taylor had worked at Jaguar Land Rover for almost 20 years as an engineer and had previously presented as male, before identifying as gender fluid in 2017.

The now ex-employee suffered harassment and discrimination from her work colleagues once she started wearing mostly women’s clothes. She was subjected to insults from colleagues and abusive jokes and experienced difficulties using toilet facilities or getting managerial support. She now identifies as a woman. 

Ms Taylor later resigned from her position and took Jaguar Land Rover to a tribunal stating that she had suffered harassment and direct discrimination in the workplace because of gender reassignment and sexual orientation. She also claimed victimisation after the company later failed to permit her to retract her resignation.

The tribunal agreed Jaguar Land Rover had at the time failed to adequately support the employee when she made complaints. It also found Jaguar Land Rover could not demonstrate that staff were trained on or even aware of its Equality Opportunity policy.

Why we were involved

Employers have a duty of care to protect their staff, and everyone has the right to a working environment free from worry or fear of harassment from their colleagues. 

As the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Equality Act 2010 (‘the Equality Act’) we have a range of powers available to us. We often use our power to enter into legally binding agreements. These are known as ‘section 23’ agreements because that is the section in the Equality Act 2006 that the power comes from. 

While we usually enter into a section 23 agreement when we have evidence that an organisation may have breached the Equality Act, we strive to develop good working relationships with the organisations involved – it’s not about catching them out. 

Some agreements are signed following a court judgment, but we do not need definitive proof that an unlawful act has occurred.

For more information on our agreements, read this blog from a lawyer in our Enforcement team, Natalie Johnston.

What we did

Following the Employment Tribunal, we worked with Jaguar Land Rover to develop an action plan to protect its staff by improving its policies and practices in relation to equality and diversity.

What happened

Under the action plan, which includes recommendations made by the Employment Tribunal, Jaguar Land Rover committed to:

  • Publicising its newly developed Diversity and Inclusion strategy internally and externally to ensure transparency and accountability;
  • Conducting an annual Diversity and Inclusion survey for staff and developing an Inclusion Index to track progress in the organisation;
  • Working with employees to improve its diversity data self-identification rates to enable more effective equality monitoring;
  • Working with an external consultant to review current Diversity and Inclusion practices and identifying any areas which require improvement, including taking steps to mitigate any risks of harassment identified;
  • Requiring staff to complete mandatory e-learning modules on Diversity and Inclusion and bullying and harassment within 3 months of joining Jaguar Land Rover; with supplemental training for people managers and senior leaders;
  • Updating its transitioning at work guidance and family policies to ensure they reflect best practice;
  • Updating its bullying and harassment policy and training key employee networks on how to effectively support employees dealing with bullying and harassment issues;
  • Launching inclusion councils at manufacturing sites so employees at these locations are engaged and have ownership of equality and diversity issues.

Who will benefit and how

Trans people face barriers across all aspects of their lives - from bullying at school to poor mental health, discrimination and hate crime.

By signing this agreement and implementing the agreed action plan, Jaguar Land Rover has made a significant commitment to prioritise the wellbeing of its staff.

Date of outcome

Dave Williams, Jaguar Land Rover’s Executive Director for Human Resources said:

“Jaguar Land Rover does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are committed to creating an environment where everyone can flourish, where our employees feel listened to, understood, supported and valued equally.

Since 2017 we have made good progress on our Diversity and Inclusion initiatives including launching our PRIDE employee network and achieving ongoing annual improvements in our Stonewall Workplace Equality Index rating. Furthermore, we have appointed a Board level sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion and created an Executive Steering Committee to consult on diversity matters, whilst in the last 12 months we have doubled the size of our HR team working in this area.

We are committed to continuing to work with our leaders, employees and employee-led diversity networks to foster an inclusive and gender-balanced culture that is representative of the society in which we live.”

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