A Christian doctor who refused to call a transgender women “she” has lost his employment tribunal.
David Mackereth claims he was sacked from his role with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after saying he would not “call any 6ft tall bearded man madam” during an “abstract discussion” with his manager.
The 56-year-old, from Dudley, West Midlands, alleged the DWP discriminated against his religious beliefs, costing him his job as a disability claim assessor.
But at a hearing in July, the tribunal heard he had chosen to leave work and was not suspended from his post.
On Wednesday the BBC reported the panel ruled that Mackereth’s views were “incompatible with human dignity” and that the DWP had not breached the Equality Act.
“A lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others,” the judgement said.
In comments reported by Christian Today, Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This is an astonishing judgment and one that if upheld will have seismic consequences not just for the NHS and for Christians, but anyone in the workplace who is prepared to believe and say that we are created male and female.
Mackereth says he intends to appeal the decision.
As well as claiming religious discrimination, Mackereth claimed that no effort was made to accommodate his beliefs, such as referring transgender clients at Birmingham’s Five Ways assessment centre to another doctor.
Back in July, centre manager James Owen said he had a meeting with Mackereth on June 13 last year and then “respected his wishes not to work”.
In a written statement describing the meeting, Owen said: “I then asked the claimant if he would respect the customer’s wish to be referred to by their chosen sexuality and name and would he convey that in his written report.
“The claimant categorically stated that he would not do that due to his beliefs and he could not put that in a report as his conscience would not allow that.
“The claimant also stated that he understood that his behaviour could be offensive.”
Owen added: “I read the answers back to the claimant and asked him to confirm if I had captured the information correctly. The claimant agreed.
“The claimant clearly stated that he would not address the transgender customers according to their preferred pronouns due to his Christian beliefs and that God would not allow him to do that.”
During the meeting, Owen said, Mackereth was upset by the whole situation, saying “the government, the law and the GMC (General Medical Council) were all against people like him and he knew how this would end and that it would not be in his favour”.
Owen told the tribunal: “I reiterated to the claimant that I did not know what the outcome would be and that it would not be my decision.”
Owen added: “We shook hands and I said to the claimant that I would be in touch. At no point was the claimant asked not to come back to work.”
The contract manager, who worked for an employment service provider to the DWP, said another staff member informed him the following day that Mackereth had told her he “felt he could not work” and had asked whether he could go home and not return until a decision had been made.
Owen said: “I called David that afternoon to check he had arrived home OK and to confirm (the other manager) and I understood his request not to continue working.
“At no point was David suspended from work.”
After receiving an email on June 15 in which Mackereth asked for written reasons from the DWP for his suspension, Owen replied to say he understood the doctor had “left work because he chose to do so” and had stated that he did not feel he could return until the situation was resolved.
Asked if he had mentioned a hypothetical “6ft tall bearded man” during the discussion with Mackereth, Owen said: “No I did not, it didn’t happen. I never asked that question.”