A transgender hairdresser in New Zealand has won her unfair dismissal case against her former employer.
In a landmark case, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruled that Dakota Hemmingson was forced out of her job when she revealed to her boss she would transition to living as a woman.
As Q News reported in May, Hemmingson was employed by Matt Swan at hair salon Barker’s Groom Room in Auckland for six weeks until she left the job in April last year.
When Hemmingson first approached Swan and explained she would transition he said he supported the move on a personal level, but he was concerned about the impact it would have on the salon.
When she was told her transition didn’t fit the commercial profile of the business she felt there was no other option than to leave.
In her ruling, ERA member Rachel Larmer said that if Swan truly didn’t want Hemmingson to leave her job he would have asked her why she felt this way and offered solutions to make her stay.
Hemmingson told the New Zealand Herald she was “overwhelmed” to receive the decision in her favour.
“It’s a huge win for transgender rights and human rights, but personally, it’s been a huge burden,” she said.
“I didn’t want any special treatment (at the salon). This was never about money or attention.”
Hemmingson hopes the ruling will be used by other people in her situation, and that gender identity will be protected by law.
“It’s amazing how little people know about transgender people,” she said.
Swan said he was disappointed with the ruling and was considering his options.
“I’ve only ever wished goodwill for Dakota. She was a valued employee and we did have a good working relationship,” he said.
Hemmingson was awarded $3248 in lost wages and $11,000 compensation for the hurt and humiliation the dismissal caused her.