Earl Shilton Town Council v Miller
You’ve probably never heard of Earl Shiltern, a market town in rural Leicestershire. And after reading this, you’ll probably hope you never have to visit its town council, which got into trouble recently because of its staff toilets.
It’s such a tiny town council that it operates out of a local church. Male employees get to use the church toilet. Female employees had to use a nearby toilet in the adjacent local children’s playgroup, and they had to attract the attention of a member of the playgroup staff to get in, meaning the toilets weren’t suitable if they had to be used in a hurry.
So Earl Shiltern town council had a brainwave. Or not. It decided to let its female employees use the men’s toilets, consisting of a urinal trough and a cubicle. The door could not be locked (there was a sign a woman could hang outside to warn men that a woman was in there, but it often fell off). That meant a woman entering the toilet, or exiting the cubicle, might see a man using the urinal. By contrast, a man would not see a woman on the toilet, as she would be locked in the cubicle.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal said this was sex discrimination. Female employees were forced, by the employer’s inadequate facilities, to see men using the toilet – but men were not forced to see women using the toilet. (There was another issue about the sanitary bin not being emptied on a schedule, but only if requested, which was also held to be sex discrimination.)
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