Portsmouth trans woman sues Sainsbury's for £2,000 damages after store worker made 'derogatory' comments in 'hate incident'
A TRANS woman is suing a supermarket giant after a store worker allegedly pointed at her and derogatorily said: ‘Look at the state of that!’
Katie Yeomans is taking Sainsbury's to court for £2,000 damages after she says she was left ‘angry and humiliated’ by a member of staff as she walked past the Palmerston Road store in Southsea.
The 68-year-old was walking her dog past when she says the ‘derogatory comments’ were made about her by one worker to another.
Katie said she knew the verbal abuse was directed toward her and wrote a letter to Simon Roberts, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, to tell him of the ‘totally unacceptable behaviour’.
She also reported it to police who treated the abuse as a ‘hate incident’.
The Southsea resident of 12 years said: ‘The incident made me feel very angry and humiliated, and even worse was the response that I had from Sainsbury’s which contained no empathy and basically a complete denial that the incident took place.
‘It wasn’t until I reported it to the police that a lady from the investigations department contacted me to set up a meeting to get the matter resolved.
‘It’s my opinion that they wouldn’t have actually dealt with it if I hadn’t reported it to police.’
Despite several phone calls made by Katie to Sainsbury’s, a promised meeting between herself and company representatives never took place.
She added: ‘Initially it would have been nice to have an apology and meet with them to discuss equality and training issues.
‘But the way I’ve been treated - their response was very abrupt and there was no equality.’
A Sainsbury’s statement to The News said an immediate investigation had been launched at the time.
It added: ‘We are committed to treating all our customers with respect.
‘We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously.’
Katie filed a county court claim against Sainsbury’s over the July incident as she remains determined to challenge discrimination and harassment.
She said that it was a shame as she is generally well supported by the people of Southsea: ‘I’m very well known within the community, and the majority of people are really nice and I go about my business without this kind of hassle.’
Hampshire police said they received a report of a ‘hate incident’ where ‘derogatory comments’ were made about a woman walking past the store.
A spokeswoman said: ‘An investigation into the incident was launched and officers followed a number of lines of enquiry in order to establish the circumstances.
‘We have spoken to those involved and words of advice have been provided.’
Katie was told that a ‘lack of evidence’ meant that no further police action was taken.
She said similar occurrences have happened around six times over the past four years.
She added: ‘I’ve been in this situation many times before with other companies unfortunately, and I find companies say they’re for equality, but they’re not in practice.
‘Companies have a legal obligation to train their staff to deal with members of the LGBT community and other members of the community, and they’re just not doing it.
‘It’s a matter of principle, because if I don’t do anything, it’s unfair.’
The police spokeswoman added: ‘We do not tolerate hate crime of any kind and continue to work with our partners and local community groups.
‘We would encourage everyone to report hate incidents to us by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.’