Transgender office worker demands apology following toilet dispute

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A transgender employee who claims she was fired from her job after using the female toilets is demanding an apology.

Keira James, aged 31, was employed in an admin role by Williams Lea Corporate Information Solutions, a subcontractor of Aviva, at Aviva’s office on Pear Street, just off Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, from June 2014.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members, including Keira James second left back row, protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members, including Keira James second left back row, protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

But Keira says she was told not to return to her position at Aviva on January 15 by the recruitment agency she was seconded from, Pertemps, following a dispute with management about which toilets she could use in the workplace.

“I no longer felt comfortable using the men’s toilets so plucked up the courage to use the female toilets,” said Keira, from Walkley, Sheffield.

“A few weeks later I was told by a manager that some staff had said they did not feel I had a right to use the female toilets.

“Then a week later I was told by the recruitment agency that I was not to return to the role, I’m certain there is a link between the two and I’m now without a job.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield. Pictured is James Mcintyre.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield. Pictured is James Mcintyre.

“I’ve never had a problem at work before – it was horrible, really embarrassing and brought back a lot of gender anxiety that I’d experienced for years.”

Keira and around 20 members of the Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World Union held a public demonstration outside the Pear Street Aviva office calling for management to apologise and reinstate her.

The group held placards, banners and toilet rolls on canes during their protest while singing union songs and chanting.

James McIntrye, branch secretary of Sheffield IWW, said: “The Sheffield IWW has reason to believe that the termination of our member’s employment is solely the result of gender discrimination by company management, and that Williams Lea may have acted in violation of the Equality Act 2010.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

“We would like to see Aviva put the pressure on Williams Lea to comply with its equality policies.”

An Aviva spokesman said: “We‘re proud of being an inclusive employer and have a very clear policy on managing gender identity in the workplace.

“Although we’re still investigating the matter, sadly it seems on this occasion, that policy may not have been followed and we are very sorry if this is the case.

“We have made it clear to our supplier that the individual concerned is very welcome at Aviva.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

“We would also welcome the opportunity to meet with the individual concerned, together with a representative of the supplier, to apologise for any misunderstanding.

“Aviva is very supportive of the trans community, we have an active Aviva Pride LGBT employee network and we’re passionate about enabling people to be themselves at work.”

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.

Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World union members protesting outside Aviva office on Pear Street in Sheffield.