FSU member Gillian Philip continues to fight for a woman’s right to state biological facts without fear of losing her job. Gillian initially brought an Employment Tribunal claim against publishers Working Partners and HarperCollins in 2021, arguing that she was unlawfully discriminated against when her contract to write children’s books was terminated when she added the hashtag #IStandWithJKRowling to her Twitter account.
A preliminary hearing was held to determine whether Gillian’s claim had been filed in time and whether she had rights under the Equality Act 2010 as a worker or employee of Working Partners.
The judge at the Employment Tribunal described Gillian’s situation as unique. (The judgement can be found here.) Gillian won on the trickiest aspect of her case, delay in bringing a claim. The judge found that it was just and equitable to allow her case to be pleaded after the time limit because in the immediate aftermath of her sacking by Working Partners she was depressed following the death of her husband.
However, although Gillian won on the time question, she lost on the worker status question and so she is now appealing that part of the judgement to the Employment Appeal Tribunal
The point to be argued at appeal is whether Gillian was a ‘worker’ controlled by Working Partners. Gillian has no doubt she has already shown she had little discretion and worked under a strict creative regime entirely controlled by Working Partners under commission from HarperCollins.
But while the appeal is ostensibly on this narrow point of law about “control”, the issues at stake here are anything but narrow – this concerns the protection of thousands of precariously employed people who make their living through creative expression, especially women who believe in the reality of biological sex.
In launching her appeal, Gillian will once again need your help. You can find out more about the case and pledge your support here.
By the way, a playwright and journalist called Phelim McAleer has written a verbatim play based on transcripts of the tribunal hearing at which Mermaids tried – unsuccessfully – to get the Charity Commission to deregulate the LGB Alliance. Judging from Phelim’s previous work, it should be very funny. He is holding a staged reading at a theatre in Camden Town and those wishing to purchase tickets should click here.