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CASE STUDY: Settlement for employee who was harassed for being gay

Morecrofts Solicitor who dealt with this case:

Kelly Faulkner

What happened:

Andrew* worked under a seasonal contract in the warehouse of a national retailer. He had been employed initially on a three-month fixed term contract as a Warehouse Operative.

During that short period, Andrew, a gay man, was subject to a number of incidents of discrimination and harassment because of his sexual orientation.

The harassment was largely from one individual, who worked alongside him at the company’s warehouse.

Andrew was called homophobic names and subjected to derogatory and offensive jokes targeted at his sexual orientation.

He complained about the behaviour to his manager. Rather than deal with the matter formally, which would have been appropriate given the serious nature of his complaint, Andrew’s manager instead decided to have ‘a quiet word’ with the individual in question.

The individual was not disciplined, but merely advised to ‘leave Andrew alone’. This made matters worse.

Because Andrew had raised a complaint to management, the homophobic comments and negative behaviour towards him escalated. Eventually, he was signed off work with work-related stress as a result of this treatment.

While absent, Andrew raised a formal grievance with the company, during which a malicious allegation was raised against him by the person who had been subjecting him to homophobic abuse. The company did not uphold Andrew’s complaint on the basis that it was ‘one word against another’.

Impact:

Because of the treatment he endured, Andrew was eventually signed off sick due to work-related stress. His contract was not renewed by the company. As a result of the treatment he received, he lost a considerable amount of income due to being signed off work. He also endured significant injury to his feelings, which led him to requiring extensive counselling due to a deterioration in his mental health.

How Morecrofts helped:

Andrew contacted Morecrofts about the treatment he had received while working for the company. We were able to get involved at an early stage and following the grievance outcome, we prepared a grievance appeal to the company and brought a claim on his behalf to the Employment Tribunal, for discrimination and harassment based on his sexual orientation.
As part of the proceedings, the parties agreed to attend Tribunal for a hearing called ‘judicial mediation’. Judicial mediation involves bringing the parties together for a mediation at a private preliminary hearing before a trained Employment Judge who remains neutral and tries to assist the parties in resolving their disputes.

The result:

We represented Andrew at the judicial mediation and achieved a settlement for him, which included a figure to compensate his injury to feelings and loss of earnings, in addition to an agreed reference. This meant Andrew was no longer required to attend a six day final hearing, where he would have to give evidence in front of the person who harassed him. By the point of settlement, Andrew was happy to be able to finally draw a line under what had happened to him and move on with his life.

*Name changed to protect privacy of the individual

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Call: 0151 236 8871 Email: info@morecrofts.co.uk Call: 0151 236 8871