A lesbian couple have won £22,000 compensation after they were forced to quit their jobs as saleswomen following jokes about their sexual orientation.
Beth Moules and Sharleen Amos, both 25, claimed they felt “insulted and humiliated” by comments made by male co-workers at water purifier firm Aquatec Rainsoft.
They alleged that one colleague, Peter Thoburn, told staff the women had taken part in a threesome with salesman Stephen Rosenthal, who had been the “meat in the sandwich” between them.
In her witness statement, Ms Amos said: “I was at first shocked and felt embarrassed and humiliated and giggled until I realised that the allegations were serious … The ‘meat in the sandwich’ is not a saying I have ever heard of.”
During another conversation, Peter Thoburn said: “I don’t know how [lesbians] can do it … It’s disgusting, I don’t agree with it”.
When the women complained about the comments, they alleged their boss, general manager Stephen Baker-Joy, 57, told them to stop complaining because “lesbians never had and never would suffer in the way that Jews had.” He also said Thoburn would not be sacked, informing them: “Don’t expect anything to be done about it.”
After working at the company for three years, both Moules and Amos were described as “exceptional sellers”. Following their complaints, however, Ms Amos was fired (over the phone), and Ms Moules resigned shortly afterwards, claiming constructive dismissal.
An employment tribunal in Bristol ruled that Ms Moules should receive £7,142.30 for unfair dismissal. Whilst Ms Amos agreed an out-of-court settlement with the firm for unfair dismissal before the hearing, to the tune of £5,000.
Another settlement for discrimination on grounds of sexual harassment will follow, with the amount involved yet to be decided, reports the Evening Post.
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