Female security guard wrongly called “Mr” by her firm wins £2k pay out

Jessica Carpani
·2-min read
A female security guard at a supermarket has won a £2k pay out  
A female security guard at a supermarket has won a £2k pay out

A female security guard who was wrongly and repeatedly called “Mr” by her firm - including in court papers - has won a £2k pay out for sexual harassment.

Sarwat Shah was working in the male dominated sector as a security guard for Morrisons supermarket when her colleagues repeatedly misgendered her - presuming she was male.  

Being addressed as a man by her colleagues, despite being a woman, left Miss Shah feeling “extremely upset”.

The comments made her stressed and anxious and when people continued to call her “Mr” she was reduced to tears.

Miss Shah, from Croydon, told the tribunal that she was referred to as a man at least five times in writing -  as well as numerous occasions over the phone - while working for the company in 2019.

One man apologised to her for making the mistake - and then went on to call her 'Mr' on two more occasions.

The security guard said she is still “agitated” by the confusion.

An employment tribunal held in London has now concluded that the “male dominated” business should have made more of an effort to “avoid making assumptions” about its employees.

The company, Total Security Services Ltd, had even misgendered Miss Shah in its witness statement, referring to her as a “Mr” which the tribunal said was “very surprising”.

The company had also got her surname incorrect, calling her as “Shaw” rather than “Shah”.

Total Security Services claimed that the mistakes were due to an “administrative error”.

They said that software they used for their online portal didn’t require people to provide a gender.

This meant that Miss Shah had been addressed as just “Sarwat” on the online portal.

Concluding, Employment Judge Omar Khalil, said: "Miss Shah was referred to as Mr on several occasions in writing and verbally.

"Very surprisingly, the error was even present in two separate paragraphs in [the operation manager's] statement and in [the HR representative's] witness statement.

"That the [company] operates in a male dominated sector would suggest that even more attention ought to be paid to avoid discriminatory assumptions.

"The Tribunal accepted the explanation that the root cause was an administration error... [Miss Shah] was referred to as Sarwat in the portal,” said Judge Khalil.

But he added that "an instruction could have been given to refer to her as Sarwat or Ms”.  

Judge Khalil said that "it was reasonable” for Miss Shah to be offended by the continued misgendering.

"She referred to the increase in her anxiety and stress, that she found this extremely upsetting and that she did cry on a few occasions," he said.

The tribunal found her claim of harassment was well founded and awarded Miss Shah £2,000 for injury to feelings.

It found another claim she made for unauthorised deductions was not made out and was dismissed.