Transgender Kiwi woman takes action against employer

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The Kiwi woman who says she was forced out of her job after revealing her intention to transition gender can continue with her unjustified dismissal claim, the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority has confirmed.

Auckland-based Dakota Hemmingson alleges her employer, Matthew Swan, forced her to resign from her position at Barkers Groom Room once he found out about her plans to become a woman.

She claims she was given a letter pressuring her to end her employment with the men's only hairdresser in April last year as she no longer fitted the business' 'commercial profile'. 

When the 23-year-old 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."

Swan reportedly told the ERA that he had never employed or dismissed Hemmingson and claimed she was employed by a different company – called Mens Grooming Limited – which he became a director of after Hemmingson left the hair salon.

The ERA, however, rejected his claim.

“I am satisfied that Ms Hemmingson and Mr Swan were parties to an employment relationship, adjudicator Rachel Larner wrote in her decision.

“The Authority therefore has jurisdiction to determine Ms Hemmingson’s dismissal grievance,” she added.

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