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'Gender neutral' bathroom ruled 'more favorable to men' in UK discrimination case

( Post Millennial )

A UK employment tribunal has found that a woman was discriminated against when her workplace provided her with a makeshift gender-neutral bathroom, ruling that the facility was inadequate because of the risk of coming across a man at the urinal.

Karen Miller was told by her employer to put a sign on the door of the men’s bathroom while she was using it, and even had to wait for the local Leceistershire council to provide a sanitary bin for the single cubicle, reports the Daily Mail.

Miller first won a sex discrimination case in 2020, but the council appealed the decision. In the judgment published earlier this week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal rejected the bid, finding that Miller was not provided with adequate facilities.

"The treatment was less favourable than that accorded to men," said Judge James Taylor. "A woman being at risk of seeing a man using the urinals is obviously not the same as the risk of a man seeing another man using the urinals."

"The claimant was not provided with toilet facilities that were adequate to her needs, because of the risk of coming across a man using the urinal and the lack of a sanitary bin," Judge Taylor added.

The judgment is of interest to gender-critical activists who have been campaigning to prevent female-only spaces from being replaced by gender-neutral ones as a way to be inclusive of transgender people.

"This case should be a wake-up call to employers and service providers who seem to have forgotten that most people prefer to go to the toilet with privacy from the opposite sex," Maya Forstater told the Daily Mail. The ruling in Forstater's landmark employment tribunal case in 2021 protects the right of gender critical people in the UK to express their views without fear of discrimination.

"No woman or girl should have to walk past the urinals to get to the toilet, and no man should have the risk of women walking past," Forstater continued. "Even in the smallest of buildings it is possible to have decent facilities, and in larger buildings providing ladies, gents and a unisex option in separate rooms mean that everyone is catered for."

"The judgment doesn’t set a precedent, but applies well-trodden principles under the Equality Act on not treating one sex inherently less favourably than the other," Employment law specialist Jason Braier told the Daily Mail. "However, it will be interesting to see whether the publicity given to this case encourages other toilet-based sex discrimination claims."

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