Trans woman wins £9k from Debenhams after being turned down for a job

Moya Lothian-McLean@moya_lm
Thursday 16 January 2020 12:00

The law sometimes moves slowly when it comes to social change.

But a recent succession of cases involving professional discrimination against transgender individuals suggest that the legal world is catching up.

Now a woman from Northern Ireland has won a £9,000 settlement from department store Debenhams after she claims she was turned down for a job because she was trans.

Debenhams settled the case but deny liability.

Yet after an interview with the business for a role as a temporary sales assistant during Christmas 2018 – in which Moore “performed well” – she received an anonymous email that alleged she’d not got the job because she was trans.

Despite selling an item during the interview, Moore said the atmosphere “changed” when she showed managers her birth certificate, showing her birth name and gender.

"It went from 'welcome to Debenhams' to very quiet,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I left the interview room to walk through a canteen full of gawpers and starers, almost like people ready to burn the monster.

"I was very disheartened and it has knocked my confidence."

Receiving the anonymous email made her determined to “stand up and fight,” she said.

Moore was supported in her case by the Equality Commission, who helped her reach the settlement with Debenhams.

"A job should go to the person who does best at interview and in selection tests," said Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commission of the Equality Commission

"What we have here is a blatant case of discrimination where a young woman went for a job, she performed well and at the end of the day, she didn't get the job," he said.

"We've got a settlement but she said this is a bittersweet thing, (but) Debenhams are going to work with the Equality Commission."

Debenhams have now promised to liaise with the Equality Commission to review its equal opportunities practices and procedures.

As for Moore, she’s found employment elsewhere and says her new manager is “kind and respectful”.

If only everyone followed that example.