An Employment Tribunal has ruled that Westminster City Council and Social Work England discriminated against a social worker by sanctioning her.
The case, Ms R Meade v Westminster City Council and Social Work England (Case No: 2201792/2022 & 2211483/2022), surrounds Rachel Meade who was sanctioned by Social Work England and suspended by Westminster City Council in 2021 for private social media posts that included gender-critical beliefs.
Between 2018 and 2020, Meade had shared posts about upholding women’s rights from various organisations, during the then reform consultation for the Gender Recognition Act 2004, with many of her posts being links to national newspaper stories and articles by advocacy groups such as Fair Play for Women and Women’s Place UK.
A former colleague and Facebook friend reported Meade to SWE in June 2020 for sharing gender-critical posts in a private group. They suggested that engaging in the debate around self-ID and single-sex spaces was inconsistent with practice as a social worker.
In July 2021, SWE’s investigation found the posts to be ‘discriminatory’ and sanctioned Meade for 12 months, ruling that her ‘fitness to practise is impaired by way of misconduct’. Meade was then suspended by her employer WCC with a warning that she was at risk of being dismissed for gross misconduct. After nearly a year’s suspension, the Council held a disciplinary hearing at the end of which it gave Meade a final written warning for gross misconduct, but allowed her to return to work.
In October 2022 SWE was granted a discontinuance of the fitness to practice proceedings, stating it did not intend to defend its position. Soon after, WCC followed suit and removed the written warning from Meade’s record.
Meade complained that both the regulatory and the disciplinary processes were acts of harassment related to her protected “gender-critical” belief. The tribunal agreed.
Judge Nicolle found that both her regulator and her employer had subjected Meade to harassment related to her gender-critical belief when SWE threatened her with fitness to practice proceedings and sanctioned her for misconduct, and then WCC suspended her for a year on charges of gross misconduct.
After the ruling, Ms Meas said:
“My employer, Westminster City Council and my professional regulator, Social Work England were wrong to have sanctioned me for expressing my legitimate views around sex and gender.
“It’s been a very difficult and harrowing three years for me and my family. I would not have got to this point, come so far, or achieved justice without your incredible support and generosity. I cannot thank you enough.”
Colum Conway, Chief Executive of Social Work England, said:
“We acknowledge the Judgment of the London Central Employment Tribunal in the case of Ms Rachel Meade against Westminster City Council and Social Work England.
“The tribunal made findings in respect of Ms Meade’s claims against Social Work England. Following the Judgment, all parties have the opportunity to consider the decision and their options. As such, we do not intend to provide further comment at this time. Any further updates will be published on our website.”
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