Gender reassignment: trans customer wins toilet sign claim

Toilet door signage has been updated across Condor Ferries' fleet
Toilet door signage has been updated across Condor Ferries' fleet / Martin Lee/REX/Shutterstock

A ferry company has updated its toilet door signs to use symbols rather than words and carried out diversity awareness training with staff after a transgender customer successfully claimed gender reassignment discrimination in a Jersey tribunal.

Ms Bisson, a trans woman, brought a gender reassignment discrimination claim against Condor Ferries under discrimination laws introduced in Jersey in 2015.

Since 1 September 2015, Jersey discrimination law has banned discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, and pregnancy and maternity.

The legislation covers direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. It extends to employment and the provision of goods and services.

Ms Bisson alleged that an instruction from a Condor Ferries employee for her to use the ferry’s disabled toilet was direct discrimination.

She also claimed that the use of words (“ladies” and “gents”) on toilet doors on ferries amounts to indirect discrimination against the transgender community.

Following the claim, Condor Ferries admitted liability, agreeing that there had been a “non-intentional and non-malicious act of discrimination” towards Ms Bisson.

The Jersey employment and discrimination tribunal made recommendations to prevent further gender reassignment discrimination. The tribunal recommended that the company:

Discrimination laws in Jersey

Jersey: Equal opportunities

  • update its equality and diversity policy and send a copy of it to the claimant;
  • carry out staff training so that the claimant is treated sensitively by the company’s staff; and
  • alter the signage on its toilet facilities on all its vessels so that “Ms Bisson as a transgender person may use such toilet facilities without fear of humiliation or embarrassment”.

Condor Ferries implemented these recommendations with the agreement of the claimant.

In a statement, the company said: “Following the lodging of a complaint about transgender discrimination, we worked with the person concerned to draw up a list of measures that Condor Ferries could take to remove the possibility of inadvertent discrimination.

These measures were then approved by both the complainant and the tribunal and we have been happy to implement all actions to their satisfaction.”

The statement continued: “Toilet door signage has been updated across Condor Ferries’ fleet and now uses symbols to avoid language issues and provide clarity, however, male and female toilets remain separate. Condor staff have also completed diversity awareness training earlier this year to ensure equal and fair treatment for all passengers.”

Toilets facilities for transgender people: good practice guide extract

An employee should be able to use the toilet and changing facilities appropriate to his or her acquired gender from the point that the individual declares that he or she is living and working in that gender.

Some employers are concerned that toilet arrangements and changing facilities will be a major issue for the employee’s colleagues.

However, employers should maintain a sense of perspective. For example, in many workplaces, single-sex toilets will have separate cubicles and may be cleaned by someone of the opposite gender.

The employer should support the employee’s right to use the appropriate facilities. It should not expect the individual to use separate facilities or a disabled toilet unless that person has a disability. If the individual offers to use a separate toilet, this should not be a permanent arrangement.

Where space allows, the employer could consider providing a number of single-occupancy gender-neutral toilets (marked by a WC sign). They could be used by employees who are uncomfortable with using a gender-specific toilet. However, the employer should not force a trans employee to use a single-occupancy toilet.

XpertHR has good practice guidance on transgender issues in the workplace.


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