£175,000 pay-out for homophobia in the workplace

An engineer has been awarded nearly £175,000 after he suffered harassment and discrimination at work after revealing his sexual orientation.

The employment tribunal ruled that the employee who was a quality manager was harassed and directly discriminated against because of his sexual orientation. It also found he was victimised and that subjected to detrimental treatment for seeking to take additional adoption leave. All this contributed to his constructive, unfair dismissal.

The employee faced numerous homophobic comments after his sexuality became common knowledge in his workplace, including “limp-wristed” hand gestures directed towards him, being called “camp” and being sent an email depicting two stereotypical gay characters with comments directed towards him.

The Claimant believed that he was in line to be promoted to General Manager, but when he came out at work and made enquiries into adoption leave because he and his husband were looking to start a family, he felt that there was a shift in attitude towards him.

He said that his employer did not make him a general manager because he was “going to be off for 12 months with parental leave”, and he felt he was “forced to choose between whether we become parents or whether I had a job”.

After he was passed over for promotion he said that his sexual orientation was commonly known in the workplace and that he faced a string of homophobic incidents from colleagues. He felt he had no choice but to leave and brought claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation, unfair dismissal, victimisation and that he was subjected to a detriment because he sought to take additional adoption leave.

The Employment Tribunal judge found that he had been “subject to harassment related to sexual orientation” and was passed over for promotion “because he sought to take additional adoption leave.”

The Claimant was awarded £23,874 for unfair dismissal, £26,300 for injury to feelings, £70,345 for loss of earnings with interest, £18,078 for failure to follow the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures and £36,048 “grossing up” to take into account the tax payable – totalling £174,645.

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