PETALING JAYA: UEM Edgenta Berhad has denied allegations of discriminating against its transgender employee, Tharani Kutty.
Following reports in January that Tharani’s manager had forced her to cut her hair and put on a man’s uniform at work, the firm said its human resources team had met with Tharani on March 15.
“Upon further investigation, the employee has clarified during the meeting that there were no elements of force, nor was the employee compelled to remove any clothing, undergarments and jewellery by the supervisors,” it said in a statement to FMT.
UEM Edgenta also said Tharani “regretted” that her story was misreported and “written in a manner that states the employee was bullied by the company, which was not the case”.
The firm stressed that it was supportive of its hospital support services employees and often organised internal programmes and campaigns to recognise their contributions.
It noted that Tharani had taken part in one of its events at Hospital Seri Manjung, Perak, where she performed a traditional dance routine in a saree. This was in front of the hospital director and the company’s senior management “who thoroughly enjoyed the performance”.
Tharani previously sued the company for unpaid overtime wages, which the industrial court ruled in her favour.
It had been reported that the dispute had placed Tharani under severe stress and that she was feeling suicidal. She was told to go on medical leave for eight days after consulting a psychiatrist.
UEM Edgenta has since paid Tharani RM1,211 as ordered by the court, adding that the Perak Labour Department had received the cheque. However, the firm appealed the decision at the High Court on the same day.
It told FMT that its employees were required to work eight hours with a one-hour break each day, which was in compliance with Section 60A (1)(d) of the Employment Act 1955.
“Any changes made to the roster is for the purpose of enhancing efficiency of the operations and most importantly, the needs of each hospital under our care,” it said.
The company added it had informed all employees on the change of working hours in a memo dated Feb 11 and 26, 2020.
“In response to this change, the employee (Tharani) filed the case to the Perak Labour Department in Sitiawan to claim the amount for the alleged overtime,” it said.
However, in support of Tharani’s mental wellbeing, UEM Edgenta said it would arrange for “further specialised mental health assistance and support”.
The company also said it had set up several “internal channels” for its healthcare employees to voice their concerns and feedback, including an avenue for whistleblowing.