Transgender woman can pursue dismissal claim

A transgender woman who claims she was forced out of her job at an Auckland barbershop has been cleared to pursue her claim of unjustified dismissal in the Employment Relations Authority.

Dakota Hemmingson took a claim of unjustified dismissal at the Employment Relations Authroity (ERA) saying her employer, Matthew Swan, forced her to resign when she announced she would transition to live life as a woman.

Hemmingson worked at Barkers Groom Room in Auckland, a hair salon which operated independently of Barkers Clothing company.

Swan told the ERA he never employed or dismissed Hemmingson. He said she was employed by a different company called Mens Grooming Limited, which he became a director of after Hemmingson left the hair salon.

When Hemmingson left the company she was asked to sign a letter that read: "We would like to mutually agree that due to the situation you have presented to us it would be in the best interests of yourself and the business to end your employment with Mensworks and Barkers Groom Room effective immediately." The letter had no mention of Mens Grooming Ltd and was signed by Swan.

The ERA did not accept Swan's claim that he had never traded as Barkers Groom Room or Mensworks.

The ERA found Swan was her employer, which allows the ERA to determine the issue of Hemmingson's dismissal grievance at a further date.

Hemmingson told the Herald in March the experience with leaving her job was "the most heart breaking thing."

"I can't even put into words how much it hurts that they took [my career] away from me becasue of who I am. They made me feel I shouldn't be doing this.

"It's the hardest thing to even consider telling someone else you are transgender," she said.

Her claim for unjustified dismissal will be heard in coming months.

See the ERA decision here:

- NZ Herald

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