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Transsexual took Norfolk cleaning firm to tribunal over discrimination claim, court told

PUBLISHED: 08:44 09 December 2014

Poppy Rose, 58 of Eaton. Miss Rose is undergoing a gender reassignment programme.

Poppy Rose, 58 of Eaton. Miss Rose is undergoing a gender reassignment programme.

Archant

A transsexual took a Norfolk cleaning firm to court, claiming she was refused work due to discrimination.

Poppy Rose, 58 of Eaton. Miss Rose is undergoing a gender reassignment programme.Poppy Rose, 58 of Eaton. Miss Rose is undergoing a gender reassignment programme.

Poppy Rose, who started to undergo gender reassignment four years ago, had hoped to become a domestic cleaner with Poringland-registered franchise Time For You (Norfolk & Suffolk) Ltd.

She said she was “disappointed” that her legal case was struck out at a Norwich employment tribunal yesterday, but hoped she had helped raise awareness of equal rights issues.

Her claim failed as the firm did not take on cleaners as staff, but kept them on a database of self-employed cleaners - meaning it was not seen as an employer under the Equality Act 2010.

Miss Rose, 58 of Eaton, learnt that her application for work had failed when she received an email from company director Russaline Cole.

It read: “We note that you are currently in the process of a gender reassignment programme.

“As the job is purely in domestic homes, we do not feel able to offer you any work at the moment, but would be pleased to take a look again at your application when you have completed your programme.

“Please do come back to us when this is the case and we can look and see if we have any work at that time and can interview you.

“I hope that you find something which suits you soon.”

While Miss Rose alleged that this was discrimination, Mrs Cole stressed to the tribunal they would have been willing to consider her for work in the future.

The email was intended as an “act of kindness” and had been “totally misinterpreted”, she added.

Mrs Cole, who was supported by her husband Leigh, said: “We believe if she was undergoing operations [as part of gender reassignment] it would be very hard work for her.”

She said she had concerns that the manual work would be a struggle.

Mrs Cole added that the pressure of legal proceedings had left her feeling suicidal.

Speaking after the case, she said: “I just feel like I want to cry. I just feel relieved.”

Miss Rose did not attend yesterday’s hearing, having sent an email at 11.15pm the night before making her apologies.

She said she was currently working as a support worker for a blind person - after a four-year job search - and could not afford to take the day off.

She has the right for the case to be reconsidered if there were a matter of law she wished to challenge, but said she could not afford the legal representation.

Miss Rose was born a man but said she had felt she was born the wrong gender since a young age, and had decided to make changes four years ago.

Employment judge Sarah Moore struck the case out at a hearing at Elliot House, in Ber Street, yesterday.

Time For You (Norfolk & Suffolk) Ltd is part of a national chain of franchises that is headquartered in Northampton, and works to match cleaners up with homeowners seeking their services.

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