You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

A British employment tribunal ruled Monday that the Open University didn’t properly protect one of its professors from “harassment” that included accusations that she’s transphobic.

Jo Phoenix, a criminology professor, left the Open University in December 2021 for England’s University of Reading, according to the ruling. But she accused the Open University of wrongful dismissal, saying she faced harassment and discrimination for her “gender-critical beliefs.” Times Higher Education reported earlier on the ruling.

The ruling says Phoenix believes “there are occasions when biological sex is more important than gender identity, particularly where women are vulnerable to male violence and/or have been subjected to male violence. For example, she believes that male people should not be housed in female prisons, irrespective of how they identify.” Phoenix declined comment to Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, citing illness and noting the existing public information on her case.

The tribunal concluded that Phoenix “was not provided with effective protection from the effects of the launch of the GCRN [Gender Critical Research Network],” at the university. The tribunal also wrote that the university didn’t provide Phoenix “protection particularly in the form of asking staff and students not to launch campaigns to deplatform the GCRN, or make calls to remove support for [Phoenix’s] gender critical research, or use social media to label [Phoenix] transphobic or TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist].”

The tribunal concluded that the Open University’s “failure” to provide Phoenix “a suitable working environment did amount to harassment” and that her dismissal was “discriminatory by reason of harassment.”

In an emailed statement to Inside Higher Ed, Tim Blackman, the university’s vice chancellor, said that “we acknowledge that we can learn from this judgment.”

“We are deeply concerned about the well-being of everyone involved in the case and acknowledge the significant impact it has had on Professor Phoenix, the witnesses and many other colleagues … We are disappointed by the judgment and will need time to consider it in detail, including our right to appeal,” Blackman said.

Phoenix’s amount of payment for her win hasn’t yet been set.