nPower case is now live (court confirmation receivd today). Here’s the press release.
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A legal challenge to a series of discriminatory and conflicting rules put in place by bureaucrats at one of the UK’s largest Utilities, nPower, could be about to make life a whole lot easier for women – and the transgendered.
Writer and sexual rights activist Jane Fae has today begun court proceedings against nPower, under the recently enacted Equality Act, claiming gender discrimination when they demand unnecessary documentation – such as marriage certificates or deed polls – to prove name change.
The case started when one nPower employee refused to recognise Ms Fae’s change of name without sight of a deed poll – whilst a second employee happily took a name change over the phone from Ms Fae’s partner (from married back to maiden name) with no request for documentation.
nPower later claimed that this was an error and that neither case should have been allowed. Their policy was to request documentation in all cases where names were changed to protect customers and for security purposes – although they refused to provide Ms Fae sight of their own internal documentation that would prove this.
Ms Fae rejects this second claim as being discriminatory nonsense. She said: “Like many organisations, nPower are more than happy to carry out many functions over the phone, from paying of bills to changing of tariffs and other details. They also accept new accounts without, as far as I can see, carrying out any checks on whether name change documentation is in place.
“They claim this is for security purposes. However, as someone with over twenty years experience working on the design of IT systems and processes – many with security requirements well in excess of anything nPower can need – their claim is nonsense.
“If anything, their approach actually diminishes customer security and makes ID fraud MORE likely.”
Ms Fae concluded: “The net effect of this requirement is to make managing an energy account that bit harder for women and the transgendered. If nPower were under some specific legal requirement to do this, I would sympathise. But they are not.
“I have offered on more than one occasion to present to them alternative, non-discriminatory ways in which they could manage this aspect of their security – but to date they have declined.
“This leaves me with no alternative but to issue court proceedings, in the hope that a practice that penalises the majority of women in the UK will, in time, be stamped out.”