A case before a Scottish Employment Tribunal (ET) has seen a gay man awarded £118,309 after his claim of discrimination under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 was upheld.
Jonah Ditton claimed that he was harassed and discriminated against, because he is gay, during the eight days he worked as a media sales manager for CP Publishing Ltd. before he was sacked.
The ET heard that Mr Ditton’s boss had called him a ‘wee poof’ and said that he looked like a ‘cream puff’. The Tribunal Chairman described the conduct of the respondent as ‘high-handed, malicious, insulting and oppressive’ and considered the manner of Mr Ditton’s dismissal, when he was told that he was not ‘psychologically balanced’, to have been degrading and humiliating.
As a result of the treatment he was subjected to, Mr Ditton became depressed and was unable to work.
The compensation award included £10,000 for injury to feelings, £76,937 for loss of earnings, £5,291 in interest and £26,081 on account of the company’s failure to follow statutory procedures.
Gay Worker Wins Harassment Case
A further case has illustrated the danger to employers of failing to take action when an incident of workplace bullying is reported.
Chris Martin worked for Parkam Food Ltd., a company in West Yorkshire that produces poultry products which it supplies to supermarkets. Three months after he started his job as a quality assurance worker, he discovered homophobic and pornographic graffiti, which referred to him personally, drawn in black marker pen on the walls of the men’s toilets. Mr Martin made a verbal complaint to his employer but nothing was done. He then complained in writing about the graffiti and other behaviour he had experienced. After additional drawings appeared, the company placed a notice in the toilets warning staff regarding graffiti but no reference was made to homophobic behaviour.
Mr Martin continued to make complaints but felt that he was treated ‘like a piece of dirt’. In November 2005 he was suspended and resigned in protest because he said the company had failed to investigate his complaint or try to find out who was responsible for the graffiti.
Mr Martin won his claim of constructive dismissal and claims of sexual harassment and discrimination under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. The Employment Tribunal found the drawings ‘offensive and homophobic’ and ruled that Parkam Food’s harassment policy was ‘completely ineffective’. The company had failed to comply with its own procedures and had not investigated Mr Martin’s grievance with adequate diligence or seriousness. Furthermore, it had failed to safeguard his dignity at work. The level of the compensation award will be decided at a later date.