ladies & gents Toiletscondor ferries

 

  • 25 May 2016
  • From the section Jersey
Image copyright Thinkstock

 

A transgender woman has won her bid to have a ferry firm remove the words “ladies” and “gents” from its toilets.

Erin Bisson, from Jersey, launched legal action for discrimination against Condor Ferries after a member of staff told her to use a disabled loo.

She had also said the use of words rather than symbols on toilets amounted to indirect discrimination.

The firm admitted discrimination at the island’s Employment and Discrimination Tribunal on Friday.

In its first decision taken since the island introduced gender discrimination laws in 2015, the tribunal found Ms Bisson’s complaints against Condor of direct and indirect discrimination because of her gender reassignment to be “well-founded”.

When she called the company in September to ask which toilets she should use, Ms Bisson said a staff member “advised me I should be using the disabled toilets”.

She claimed this had amounted to direct discrimination.

Image caption Condor Ferries changed its male and female toilet signs earlier this year as a result of the case

Condor, which sails between Poole, Portsmouth, France and the Channel Islands, admitted to a “non-intentional and non-malicious act of discrimination”.

Ms Bisson has since approved changes to the Condor toilets which now have symbols representing men and women, and not words. Male and female toilets are still separate.

“Gender is down to identity, symbols is one way of dealing with this”, she said.

‘Education not litigation’

Condor Ferries said it had worked with Ms Bisson to draw up a list of measures “to remove the possibility of inadvertent discrimination”, which it had implemented after approval from Ms Bisson and the tribunal.

“As the first ruling about transgender discrimination, this sets the direction for future tribunals to follow,” said advocate Caroline Dutot, an employment and discrimination law specialist in Jersey.

Condor Ferries said all its staff had also completed a diversity training programme for the first time in March.

Vic Tanner Davy, chair of Trans* Jersey, said while the group was “pleased” the tribunal had found in favour of a transgender person, the community preferred “the approach of education” rather than “litigation” against employers.