A transgender woman in Poland won in court against her employer who required her to wear a male uniform despite her gender identity.
The transgender woman who goes by the name of Joanna was hired to work for a security company and was undergoing the legal process of formally changing her gender identity.
Adam Bodnar, Poland’s country commissioner for human rights said that the incident is a “precedent” for trans rights in Poland.
“In the course of recruitment, the employer treated the claimant as a woman, but when he found out about her [legal male] gender identity, he prevented her from taking up her duties in a humiliating manner, making it a condition, among other things, that she agree to work in a male uniform,” wrote Bodnar.
Joanna sued her employer for damages saying that she was discriminated against and harrassed and that she had a right to equal treatment in the workplace. The case was supported by the commissioner for human rights and Campaign Against Homophobia (KPH), an NGO that works on behalf of LGBT rights.
In an initial case hearing, a lower court had dismissed Joanna’s claims and stated that wearing a male uniform was not humiliating as women have been wearing trousers since the 19th century. Joanna appealed and was heard by the district court in Warsaw which issued a binding ruling in her favor.
“Although the issue of transsexualism has not yet been fully clarified and regulated in the Polish legal system, [there is] a prohibition of discrimination against transsexual persons,” the court wrote in its justification, cited by the Polish Press Agency.
The court understood that Joanna identified as a woman at the time of recruitment, although this was before filing the documents for her legal gender change. However, the court deemed that it was more important who Joanna was and how she identified versus what was in her documents.
Joanna issued a statement saying that she “hopes this verdict will encourage other people to fight for their rights”