Feeds

Employers liable for workplace homophobic abuse

Company stumps up £118,000 after 'cream puff' slur

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Employers are liable for the effects that homophobic abuse masquerading as banter has on workers, according to an Employment Tribunal ruling.

The Scottish ruling came just after a US case in which name calling was also penalised.

Three weeks ago, a Glasgow Employment Tribunal ruled against a firm in which an employee was called a "wee poof" and "a cream puff" and fired after just eight days of employment for being psychologically imbalanced. The man was awarded £118,000 in compensation.

Last week in the US a Californian court heard an appeal against disciplinary action taken against a pupil for saying "that's so gay".

In the US case a schoolgirl was being teased by classmates about the fact that she came from a Mormon family. When asked did she have 10 mothers, she said "that's so gay". She later told the court that she had meant "that's so stupid, that's so silly, that's so dumb".

The school involved gave the pupil, Rebekah Rice, an official warning, and a record was added to her file detailing the incident. Her parents have sued the school, seeking to have her record wiped clean, and the trial judge in the case has yet to make a verdict known.

Similar insults formed the backbone of a UK employment case in recent weeks. Jonah Ditton sold advertising space in the media and took a new job with entertainment listings company CP Publishing.

There Ditton was subjected to insults related to his being gay from his second day on the job. His manager Warren Paul made comments in an exaggeratedly camp voice and said, when Ditton turned up for work in a cream suit, that he "looked like a cream puff".

He tried to join in a discussion on sex but was told by Paul to "shut it, you wee poof" in an aggressive tone. That night Ditton was telephoned to be told that he was sacked because he was not psychologically balanced.

Ditton said that in the aftermath of the incident he had started drinking heavily and lived on benefits, having previously earned £80,000 a year, though he has since returned to work.

The Employment Tribunal awarded Ditton £10,000 for injury to his feelings, £76,937 for financial loss, £5,291 in interest payments and £26,081 compensation because the company failed to follow the procedures set down in law.

The total award was £118,309, believed to be the highest Employment Tribunal award in a case related to a person's sexuality.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Related link

OUT-LAW.COM's legal info on employment

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.