Record payout for victim of Homophobic Bullying

A media sales manager who suffered homophobic bullying and discrimination has been awarded almost £120,000 compensation.

Jonah Ditton, 32, from Paisley, Scotland was was called "a wee poof" and suffered malicious and insulting abuse on a daily basis from his colleagues. He was fired after just eight days at his new job after the firm said he was not "psychologically balanced".

An employment tribunal awarded him £118,309 for discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation. In what could be seen as slightly inflammatory reporting, the Scotsman newspaper calculated that his pay out amounts to about £30 for every minute that Mr Ditton worked at the firm.

Mr Ditton, 32, brought the claim against the firm, which publishes entertainment listings, under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which came into force in December 2003.

A tribunal heard that his boss, Warren Paul, had called Mr Ditton "a wee poof" and said he looked like "a cream puff".  On another occasion, Mr Paul commented on a blue tie he was wearing and, on being told it was by Hermès, Mr Paul replied: "Oooh, Hermès" in a camp voice. A few days later, Mr Paul allegedly asked Mr Ditton if he was from Stoke-on-Trent, rhyming slang for "bent".

On the day Mr Ditton was fired, he had tried to join in a conversation about marriage, but was told by Mr Paul, in an aggressive tone, to "shut it, you wee poof". Mr Ditton was phoned that evening and told he was fired after little more than a week in the job.

The tribunal also heard claims that Mr Paul was a former police officer who threatened to send "some police friends to visit" Mr Ditton if he contacted the office after his dismissal.

Mr Ditton commented “I do not feel my sexuality had any bearing on my ability to do my job. I was truly hurt and upset," he told the tribunal.

"They are foul individuals and they should be punished as much as possible."

Tribunal chairman Mrs Cape said:

"The conduct of the respondent was high-handed, malicious, insulting and oppressive.

"Whilst the claimant was only employed for a short period, the respondent, and in particular Mr Paul, overtly abused and humiliated him on the grounds of his sexual orientation persistently over that period of time.

"He found himself being subject to daily abuse in front of those whom he was managing on the grounds of his sexual orientation."

She added: "The manner of his dismissal was humiliating and degrading."

Calum Irving, a director of Stonewall Scotland, the pressure group campaigning for gay rights, said the case sent out a strong signal to any employers who flout the law.

"This, the highest award so far in a sexual-orientation employment case, makes clear more than ever that Scottish employers have a duty to tackle homophobia in the workplace.

"Apart from destroying a person's career, allowing homophobia to carry on unabated blights the working environment and can destroy a firm's reputation."

Stonewall has launched a new guide aimed at dealing with the bullying and harassment of lesbian and gay employees. 'Bullying: preventing the bullying and harassment of gay employees', the third in Stonewall's Workplace Guide series, offers clear and practical advice on how to tackle anti-gay bullying and harassment at work

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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