discriminationdiscrimination issuesemployment lawEquality Act 2010

A Christian doctor who was training to be a medical assessor for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had his contract terminated due to his refusal to use ‘transgender pronouns’, he has claimed to the Birmingham Employment Tribunal.

Dr David Mackereth, who had 26 years’ experience as an NHS doctor, was asked to refer to patients in accordance with their chosen gender identification. However, he responded that he would have a problem with this as he believed that gender was defined by biology and genetics, telling the Tribunal that he would not refer to “any six-foot tall bearded man” as “madam”.

He states that he was suspended as a disability claims assessor in June 2018, and his contract subsequently terminated.

Dr Mackereth, backed by the Christian Legal Centre, brings his claim against both the DWP and APM (the recruitment Company that initially hired Dr Mackareth) at the Employment Tribunal for direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of his religious belief. He has told the Tribunal that he believes transgenderism to be a “delusional belief” and an ideology “which I disbelieve and detest” and went on to state “If you believe in gender fluidity, gender is no more than one’s own fantasy about oneself”.

The DWP in turn argues that Dr Mackareth’s views are in breach of the Equality Act 2010, and APH have stated that his views are not compatible with human dignity. 

The Tribunal heard from the DWP and APM however that Dr Mackareth ‘chose’ to leave his job following an email exchange with his manager in which he was asked to follow the “process discussed in your training”. The email went on to state ”If however you do not want to do this, we will respect your decision and your right to leave your contract”. 

As you would expect, this case has attracted a great deal of media attention including Piers Morgan famously branding Dr Mackareth ‘a bigot’ on Good Morning Britain.   

So, was he dismissed or did he leave of his own accord and perhaps more importantly, how will the Equality Act be interpreted in this case? The Tribunal ended last Friday, however a reserved judgment is not currently expected until September – we look forward to reporting the outcome!