A Glasgow employment tribunal has awarded a customer service assistant over £13,000 for harassment and unfair dismissal after it found co-workers ‘bullied and ridiculed’ him because he is gay.
Colleagues at The Lighthouse in Glasgow humiliated Steven Bain by asking him whether he had ever dressed as a woman and if he found the words “poof” and “queer” offensive.
Initially he’d had no problems with co-workers, but told the tribunal that following a “change of culture” in the workplace in 2007 people seemed increasingly “uncomfortable” with him being gay.
Other instances of homophobia cited by Mr Bain included colleagues:
- walking out of a room when he entered;
- saying they were “disgusted” that he had gone to a gay bar;
- speaking to him in a “sarcastic gay voice”;
- raising issues about which tea cup he should use, and that he should have his own and not share with anyone;
- decking out a Christmas tree in red “AIDs support” ribbons.
Mr Bain, who now suffers from depression and panic attacks, lodged complaints against members of staff but they were all dismissed. Then, in August 2009, The Lighthouse made him redundant. Mr Bain believes he was selected because of his complaints against co-workers.
In a written judgement, Judge Lucy Wiseman stated the treatment meted out to Mr Bain “amounted to harassment on the ground of sexual orientation” and awarded him £13,528 in compensation.
She added that the comments from co-workers created an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive” working environment.
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