Trans woman awarded £9,000 in Debenhams sex-discrimination settlement after being refused Christmas job
Debenhams has settled a sex-discrimination case with a trans woman for £9,000.
Debenhams settled without admitting liability.
Ava Moore, who had applied for a Christmas job at the multinational retailer in 2018, did not get the job after the company found out she was transgender.
Moore, who is from County Down in Northern Ireland, applied for a temporary sales position in the lead up to Christmas in 2018. Her interview was described as “good” but she didn’t get the job, and later received an anonymous email claiming that the decision not to hire her was because she’s a trans woman.
In a statement after news of the settlement Moore, whose case was supported by the Equality Commission, said: “I was really disappointed that I didn’t get the job. I thought I had completed a good interview which had included interacting with customers on the sales floor.
“This job was exactly what I’d been looking for and I thought that I’d be really good at it. However, during the course of the interview, I felt a change in the atmosphere after I provided my birth certificate which discloses my gender history and the fact that I am a transgender woman.
“I was so upset [when I didn’t get the job]. What does my gender have to do with my ability to make sales? I’m just trying to make a better life for myself, I want to work and support myself.
“My confidence was rocked and I was just so deflated – I felt that it didn’t matter how hard I tried, or how well I performed at interview, it just seemed to me that my gender was more important than being able to do the job.”
Her job interview had included a trial run working on the shop floor, during which she sold an item to a customer.
Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, said: “The issue here is simple – a job should go to the person who does best at interview and in selection tests. That’s what equality of opportunity in practice means.
“The company confirmed that Ava performed well at interview and in interacting with customers – and she says she told them she was willing to work the hours required.
“The more open and inclusive the recruitment process, the more likely it is to avoid unlawful discrimination and increase the likelihood of getting the best and most qualified people for the job.
“Debenhams has said it’s willing to liaise with the Commission to review its Equal Opportunities policies, practices and procedures – we welcome this commitment and look forward to working with them.”
Wardlow also noted a recent Northern Ireland Life and Times survey in which 21 per cent of those interviewed said that they were prejudiced against the transgender community.
A spokesman for Debenhams said: “We have agreed a settlement on the basis of no liability on the part of Debenhams. We are an equal opportunities employer committed to promoting equality and diversity within the business and throughout the sector.
“Decisions on recruitment, training, promotion and employment conditions are based solely on personal competence and performance.”