Chester 01244 405 555

Grosvenor Court
Foregate Street Chester
Cheshire CH1 1HG
DX: 19990 Chester


Shrewsbury 01743 443043

Lakeside House
Oxon Business Park
Shrewsbury SY3 5HJ
DX: 148563 Shrewsbury 14

Greater Manchester 0333 241 6886

Kennedy House,
31 Stamford St,
Altrincham WA14 1ES

2nd August, 2022

Employers remain able to restrict the display of a protected characteristic in the workplace

A Christian doctor lost their transgender pronoun case; but his beliefs are worthy of protection.

The Background of the Case

Mr Mackereth, a Christian doctor, was dismissed by his employer for his views in relation to his beliefs about transgenderism. He then brought an Employment Tribunal claim for both direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment. He sought to rely on the protected characteristic of religion or belief, and that his religion was a protected characteristic.

The DWP had a policy that transgender patients would be referred to by their preferred pronouns. Mr Mackereth however argued that he could not comply with this policy based on his religious beliefs and was suspended for failure and refusal to comply with the DWP’s policy.

The Tribunal had initially dismissed Mr Mackereth’s claims, on the basis that he did not satisfy one or more of the criteria set out in Grainger Plc v Nicholson, which is the leading case for determining whether a particular belief is protected under the Equality Act. Namely, that the belief must be worthy of respect in a democratic society and that the belief must also not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. The Tribunal did not believe that Mr Mackereth’s belief satisfied the legal test in Grainger.

Mr Mackereth appealed this decision.

The EAT Decision

The EAT confirmed that whether a belief meets the Grainger threshold, cannot also depend on the context of the particular employment. Further, the EAT has made it clear that the threshold is now relatively low for what will be protected as a belief under s.4 Equality Act 2010.

Despite this, Mr Mackereth’s claims failed. The actions of the employer did not amount to discrimination. As such, employers remain able to restrict the display of a protected characteristic in the workplace. This is provided they can show that in doing so it is necessary and proportionate and in pursuit of a legitimate aim.


These cases are highly fact sensitive, and this particular case related to the patients the doctor was serving under his contract of employment, the number of transgender patients he would see and the impact on clients of the service.  It is therefore important to carefully consider the factual circumstances of the case.

If you would like to discuss any matter mentioned in this article please contact our team today by completing the form below.

Contact Us

You might also be interested in...

A Sponsor Licence and Skilled Workers: Employing overseas nationals

22nd November, 2022

With a growing labour shortage in the UK, it is becoming more prevalent for UK businesses to begin... Read More »

Health and Care Worker

Routes to the UK: The Health and Care Worker Visa

22nd November, 2022

It is well reported that the UK has been experiencing labour shortages in the health sector for a... Read More »

The World Cup 2022: HR and employment law issues employers may face

18th November, 2022

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup just around the corner, and a month of football ahead, our employment... Read More »

Contact Us