Man dismissed from Period Dignity Officer role issues tribunal claim
Jason Grant is suing the Scottish Partnership (comprised of Dundee and Angus College, Perth College, Dundee Council and Angus Council) that dismissed him last year from his post as Period Dignity Officer. Mr Grant alleges he was dismissed from the role because of his gender.
In August 2022, Scotland became the first country in the world to make the provision of free period products in public places a legal right. The Period Dignity Officer role was the first of its kind and was created to promote this new legislation. The job advertisement for the Period Dignity Officer role stated that candidates would be required to demonstrate: “a successful track record of engaging and empowering a large range of people from a diverse range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, in particular, young people who menstruate”. The advertisement did not state that candidates must be female.
Mr Grant had been employed to engage with those who menstruate by leading regional campaigns across schools, colleges and communities and was authorised to allocate funding for period products. Additionally, his role would also require him to raise awareness of the menopause.
At the time of the appointment, the Partnership said that Mr Grant was the strongest candidate for the job. That statement remains unproven at the moment, but a Freedom of Information request has been sent to the Partnership requesting details as to how many other candidates applied for the role and how many were interviewed.
Prior to his dismissal, Mr Grant had said he felt that being a man would help him “break down barriers” in the role and that “periods are an issue for everyone”.
There was a media storm following Mr Grant’s appointment, with many critics insisting that the role should have gone to a woman. The Partnership responsible for hiring Mr Grant, reported that they had received “threats and abuse” following Mr Grant’s appointment. It initially defended Mr Grant’s appointment but eventually eliminated the position entirely.
Mr Grant claims that he was “publicly dismissed” before he was even given written confirmation from his employers that the role had been disbanded and feels that he was removed from the role simply because he is a man.
Mr Grant has instructed lawyers who contend that all of the Partnership’s organisations should be jointly liable for the alleged discrimination. Claims have been issued against the Partnership alleging sex discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal.
The claims are set to be heard by the Employment Tribunal on 4th March 2024 and the hearing is predicted to last an unprecedented 10 weeks. The anticipated length of the tribunal has caused further controversy as the claim is against publicly funded bodies and will therefore be funded by the tax-payer.
So what could happen?
The outcome will be dependent on how the Partnership’s representative’s defend the case.
They may deny that Mr Grant was dismissed because he was a man and the Partnership potentially could provide a valid explanation as to why they were forced to cull the role. Alternatively, they may try to argue that Mr Grant was unsuitable for the role because he was a man, but would that be legal?
In exceptional circumstances, an employer may be able to justify the sex of an employee being a genuine occupational requirement. For example, ACAS suggest that a women’s refuge may choose to limit applications to women to help residents feel safer. Could the role of a Period Dignity Officer meet this criteria? That is a question for the Tribunal to decide…
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