Northern Ireland

Transgender woman settles case against Debenhams

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Media caption'Trans people aren't going anywhere'

A transgender woman will receive a £9,000 settlement from Debenhams after settling a sex discrimination case.

Ava Moore had applied for a job as a temporary sales assistant with Debenhams in her hometown of Newry, County Down, in the run up to Christmas 2018.

She was turned down for the role despite performing well at interview.

The Equality Commission supported Ms Moore in the case, which Debenhams settled with no admission of liability.

After being formally notified that she was unsuccessful, Ms Moore received an anonymous email, which alleged she did not get the job because she was a transgender woman.

She said her "confidence was rocked" by the news.

Image caption Ms Moore said the atmosphere at her interview changed after providing her birth certificate

She said she had felt a change in atmosphere during the interview after providing her birth certificate, which disclosed her gender history.

"This job was exactly what I'd been looking for and I thought that I'd be really good at it," she said.

"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."

Ms Moore said she wanted to work and support herself.

"What does my gender have to do with my ability to make sales?" she added.

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, which supported Ms Moore in her case against Debenhams, said the issues were simple.

"A job should go to the person who does best at interview and in selection tests," he said.

"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."

Mr Wardlow said he welcomed a commitment by Debenhams to liaise with the Commission to review its equal opportunities policies, practices and procedures.

Image copyright Nick Ansell/PA

In a statement, 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."

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