A gay employee of Clinton Cards claims he was suspended the day after he told his boss that he had been diagnosed with HIV.

Karl Nugent, 23 from Northallerton in north Yorkshire told an employment tribunal investigating his suspension that he was told to stay away from the other staff’s mugs and cutlery in the staff kitchen. He also claims that he was given £20 to purchase his own towels and not to use the staff toilet in order “to avoid other staff catching HIV”.

Mr Nugent told the tribunal that he “was made to feel like I was an infected animal that should be kept away from everyone else.”

He is claiming discrimination against a disability and sexual orientation, and seeks damages from Clinton Cards plc and his former boss Sue Johnson.

Mr Nugent confirmed that he had previously been convicted of theft for which he paid a £3,500 fine as well as serving 80 hours of community service. He claims to have told Mrs Johnson about his conviction at least a week prior to his suspension.

He denied claims from Mrs Johnson’s solicitor that she had informed him that there was no need to provide his own mug or use separate toilets because she was aware there was no risk of transmission by those methods.

Clinton Cards plc claim that Mr Nugent was suspended and then dismissed for the failure to disclose a criminal conviction on his original job application.

The tribunal also heard that Mr Nugent did not make an initial appeal to the high street chain against his dismissal.

Clinton Cards plc and Sue Johnson deny the claims and the case continues.