Transgender van driver sues delivery company for anti-trans discrimination
A transgender van driver has launched a first-of-its-kind discrimination claim against a delivery company that employed her services as an independent contractor.
Hayley Stanley worked as a van driver for Gnewt Cargo – which delivers for brands including John Lewis, Debenhams, M&S, Next and Amazon.- between May 2014 and January 2018.
The van driver alleges that she faced “three years of systematic bullying and discrimination” because of her gender identity.
She claims that in addition to persistent “pointing and sniggering” from colleagues, Ms Stanley’s bicycle was vandalised three times when stored within Gnewt’s secured premises.
On one occasion a wheel nut on her bike was loosened – which resulted in the wheel nearly coming off while Ms Stanley was riding it.
Colleagues would also seek to bully Ms Stanley by packing boxes and assorted items in front of her loading bay, meaning she would have to clear the area before she could load her van.
The van driver alleges that she tried to raise her concerns with Gnewt management but was ignored – and on one occasion a manager smirked at her when she was recounting the abuse she suffered.
Ms Stanley was dismissed in January 2018, when Gnewt alleges she damaged a loading bay door. She insists that the damage was accidental and happened when moving boxes her colleagues had placed in her loading bay.
The van driver, who is backed by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWBG), this week filed an employment tribunal claim against Gnewt Cargo and parent company Menzies Distribution.
The case is significant as Ms Stanley was technically employed as an “independent contractor” which could be used to deny her legal protections against discrimination.
However ‘gig economy’ companies that routinely employ people as independent contractors have lost a string of recent court battles over employment rights.
In a statement, Hayley said:”These companies in the ‘gig economy’ have been given carte blanche to do whatever they want, while people like me get no protections.
“We can be dismissed at any time without being given a reason and when faced with bullying the companies simply ignore our complaints.
“I hope with this case I can finally get some justice and that not only Gnewt, but all companies in the gig economy, start cleaning up their act.”
IWGB General Secretary Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Employment rights are not just about wage issues they are also about dignity and humane treatment.
“The sort of transphobic bullying and harassment that Hayley was subjected to is just one example of the many human costs of companies bogusly classing their workers as independent contractors.
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“Gnewt cargo is not the only culprit here. If we want employment laws to mean anything, the government needs to actively enforce them.”
Gnewt Cargo countered: Ms Stanley previously worked with Gnewt Cargo as a self-employed contractor.
“We ended that relationship in January of this year after an incident, captured on CCTV, in which she purposefully damaged the main roller shutter door of our premises by ramming it with a loaded pallet truck.
“As a result of her action, the company incurred a large repair bill and was obliged to employ additional security for a number of days while the shutter could not be lowered.
“The decision to terminate her contract was purely due to this incident and any other self-employed contractor would have been treated in the same way.”