A straight, married father of two, and City trader, was subjected to a tirade of homophobic abuse, including being sent hardcore gay porn, and being called a “fat homo”, an employment tribunal heard.
The court heard that Barney James, who worked as a trader at BGC Partners LP for six years, said he was called names by his colleagues such as “big angry gay”, and “fat homo”. He went on to say that his fellow bankers took drugs and used prostitutes.
He expressed a former fear that if he spoke out it would constitute “professional suicide”, and so did not lodge a complaint earlier, but eventually he resigned and filed a lawsuit against the bank for major damages for constructive dismissal, at the East London Employment Tribunal.
The representative for BGC , Schona Jolly, asked James whether he thought the alleged abuse may have been nothing more than banter. She said: “As a 6ft 3in rugby player, who is married with children, that was the joke as you are clearly not gay,” but he said the abuse had been “heartbreaking”.
In a witness statement James, of Crawley, West Sussex, said: “From the very start of my employment [in 2005] I was subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and I was frequently referred to as being gay despite the fact that I am straight.
“From the outset of my time at BGC the atmosphere on the desk could best be described as macho and boorish.”
James, 33, said he was sent abusive emails, as well as a stream of hardcore gay pornography. He was described in court as a “6ft 3in rugby player”, and resigned in 2011.
One of the alleged perpetrators of the abuse, Alex Bergin-McCarthy, appeared in court. James said Bergin-McCarthy had called him a “boring, sad, fat, gay ****”, and claimed that sitting next to James would make him gay.
The case was settled out of court after one day.
Lord Browne, the former Chief Executive of BP, at the weekend spoke out about a current lack of acceptance of diversity in the world of business, and said that for years he was scared to come out as gay.