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Trans woman receives £9,000 settlement from Debenhams in sex discrimination case

Ava Moore was turned down for a position as a temporary sales assistant at a shop in Newry, Northern Ireland.

By Will Stroude

A trans woman has settled a sex discrimination case against Debenhams for £9000.

Ava Moore, from Newry, Northern Ireland, had launched a legal case against the department store after being turned down for a job as a temporary sales assistant in the run-up to Christmass 2018, despite performing well in her interview.

She later received an anonymous email claiming she had been turned down for the role because she was transgender.

Debenhams agreed to settle with no admission of liability after Moore sued for sex discrimination, supported by the Equality Commission.

“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,” Moore said.

“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.”

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, welcomed the settlement, which came with a commitment by Debenhams to review its “Equal Opportunities policies, practices and procedures”.

“A job should go to the person who does best at interview and in selection tests,” Dr Wardlow 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.”

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.”