PETALING JAYA: Klang MP Charles Santiago has urged the government to look into the plight of Tharani Kutty, a transgender who is caught in a dispute with her employer.
Speaking to FMT, Santiago said the matter was under the purview of human resources minister M Saravanan and he should, therefore, intervene on the matter.
“He is a part of the government and this is the kind of labour-related issues that he should be addressing,” he said.
Last January, Tharani sued the company she worked with over unpaid overtime wages and the labour court ruled in her favour. However, the firm then appealed the decision at the High Court.
It has been reported that the ongoing dispute had placed Tharani under such severe stress that she was feeling suicidal. She was told to go on medical leave for eight days after consulting a psychiatrist.
She claimed that in January, her manager forced her to cut her hair and put on a man’s uniform at work and that her superior had also bullied other transgender workers.
Santiago acknowledged that he was not sure whether it was the wage dispute or the alleged harassment that had put Tharani under pressure, but he said there could be no excuse for either.
He said the company should resolve the overtime pay dispute out of court if her claims were legitimate, adding that it could end up spending more money by going to court.
“The wage problem she is facing is actually one that is faced by many informal or casual workers,” he said.
“They fundamentally have no rights and some don’t even have contracts.
“If she is being oppressed because she’s a transgender, then that’s sexual harassment. There’s no rule that says you can’t be a transgender at the workplace. Sexual identity is a personal matter. Employers don’t determine it.
“Employment laws supply labour rights to everybody. It doesn’t say male or female only. It just says employee. That’s everybody.”
FMT has contacted the employer and is withholding the company’s name pending its comment.