A Counselling Support Worker was discriminated against and unfairly dismissed by Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre because of her gender-critical beliefs, an employment tribunal has found.

Roz Adams said it was a “victory for all people who have been subjected to sexual violence who need a choice of worker, and group support on the basis of sex in order to feel safe.”

The centre had denied discrimination. They claimed that she had not been dismissed but had “simply resigned.”

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In a scathing verdict, employment Judge McFatridge described the evidence submitted by key members of ERCC as “entirely unsatisfactory."

He said Ms Adams had been subject to a disciplinary process “reminiscent of the work of Franz Kafka”.

Shortly before she joined Edinburgh Rape Crisis, she met with the then Chief Operating Officer, Maggie Chapman.

The two women went for a walk where she was she heard what she described in the Tribunal as the “mantra” that “trans women are women”.

Ms Chapman left the ERCC the next year following her election as a Green list MSP.

Ms Adams told the tribunal she was “concerned that there was no real definition or clarification associated with this statement.”

Once she started work she felt it became more and more apparent that there were issues regarding the way that gender issues were dealt with in the organisation.

She felt there were obvious places where the organisation needed to talk about it but felt that support workers were not permitted to talk about it and described the issue as being “eggshelly”.

People who wrote to the organisation raising concerns were “classed as bigots” and their emails were stored in a folder called “Hate emails.”

Two months after Ms Adams started, Mridul Wadhwa, a trans woman was appointed as CEO.

She told the tribunal she was “initially happy” with appointment. They heard that “she had no issue with trans people using the service or working in the service” and “felt that was a good thing.”

However, given that 98 to 99% of sexual violence was perpetrated by men, she “believed that all victims of sexual violence would almost certainly wish to speak to a female person.”

She said that the centre’s view that there is no difference between a man and a trans man or between a woman and a trans woman or a non binary person was “simply incorrect and not possible.”

She told the tribunal of a woman in her 60s who approached the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre asking to take part in group work.

She had kept secret for 40 years the fact that she had been sexually assaulted and wanted to meet other survivors as part of her recovery.

When this woman asked the centre for reassurance that any group discussion would be women only, she was advised that ERCC were trans-inclusive.

When she made clear that she was unhappy that she may be seeing someone who was not biologically female she was advised that she “was not suitable for their service and was excluded.”

Ms Adams also said she became aware that the centre had a policy of “not referring people in this situation to Beira’s Place” a sexual violence support centre set up specifically as a single sex space.

When a service user who had been assigned a non-binary counsellor with a male-sounding name emailed requesting to know whether their support worker was a man or a woman, Ms Adams asked her manager for clear instructions on how to respond.

She suggested a form of words, reading: "Thanks for asking. [The counsellor] is a woman at birth who now identifies as non-binary."

That ultimately sparked a “completely spurious and mishandled” disciplinary process which culminated in Ms Adams being constructively dismissed.

The Tribunal said they agreed with Ms Adam’s lawyer’s description that what followed was a “heresy hunt.”

They concluded that Ms Wadha had an agenda to “cleanse the organisation of those who did not follow her beliefs.”

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In a statement released on Sunday night, Ms Adams said: “"With relief, I welcome the ruling of the Employment Tribunal of 14.5.24. They unanimously found that Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre unlawfully discriminated against me on the grounds of my sex realist (gender critical) belief and constructively unfairly dismissed me.

“This is a victory for all people who have been subjected to sexual violence who need a choice of worker, and group support on the basis of sex in order to feel safe.”

She said she hoped “Scottish Government, OSCR, Rape Crisis Scotland and all those in the sector feel emboldened by this judgment to safeguard this important choice for survivors, as part of ensuring services are welcoming to all who need them.”

The ERCC’s board of directors said they were “saddened” by the outcome of the tribunal and will now take time to reflect on the written judgement.

They said: “We strive to provide a safe accessible and inclusive service and are committed to improving continuously.

“We are fully supportive of Rape Crisis Scotland’s commissioning of an independent review of ERCC practice.

“This will help ensure our practices and procedures meet the highest standards as set out in the Rape Crisis national service standards, and that survivors receive the exceptional quality of support they deserve.

“We want to reassure all survivors who are currently accessing our services and anyone seeking support that we are still here for you, and you matter to us. Our services remain unaffected by these events.”