As we celebrated and honoured the LGBTQ+ community in June, it’s important to reflect on how we can create a more inclusive workplace for everyone. One aspect of this is using correct pronouns for our coworkers.
Why Pronouns Matter
Using correct pronouns is a basic aspect of respect and recognition of someone’s identity. Not using someone’s correct pronouns can lead to feelings of invalidation and disrespect. It can also have serious consequences, including legal action being taken against a company or individual.
Misgendering someone is not only hurtful, it can be illegal. Several provinces and territories in Canada have enacted laws that require employers to use an employee’s preferred pronouns. In some cases, failure to do so can result in fines or other penalties.
The Case of E.N. v. Gallagher’s Bar and Lounge
In 2021, the case of E.N. v. Gallagher’s Bar and Lounge  O.H.R.T.D. No. 241 demonstrated the legal consequences of misgendering employees in the workplace. In the case, the employer discriminated against three employees on the basis of their gender identity, gender expression, and sex by misgendering them and refusing to use their proper pronouns.
The owner was ordered to pay lost wages to the three affected employees. Additionally, each employee was to receive $10,000 as compensation for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect.
This case serves as a powerful reminder of the emotional impact that misgendering can have, as well as the legal consequences. Misgendering someone is not only hurtful, it can have serious consequences. In some cases, it can even lead to legal action being taken against a company or individual.
How to Use Pronouns in Practice
Using someone’s correct pronouns is often a simple matter of just asking them what they prefer. It’s important to make sure that everyone in the workplace is aware of the importance of pronouns, and that they understand how to use them correctly. This can include providing training or resources to employees who may not be familiar with the concept.
By creating a workplace culture that values and respects everyone’s identity, including their pronouns, companies can create a more inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and supported. And it’s not just about employees – incorporating pronouns into email signatures and name tags can help coworkers and clients feel comfortable and respected.