Current Affairs

Gay harassment victim awarded £120,000

Tony Grew February 12, 2007
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An employment tribunal in Glasgow has awarded huge damages to a gay man victimised at work.

32-year-old Jonah Ditton was a media sales manager for CP Publishing Ltd for only eight days, yet the nakedly homophobic behaviour of his boss is reflected in the compensation of almost £120,000 he was awarded.

This is the largest award ever for a case of sexual orientation discrimination.

Mr Ditton described his former employers as “foul individuals,” and told the tribunal how he was abused on a daily basis.

His boss, Warren Paul, called him “a wee puff,” the BBC reports.

The case is just the latest high-profile example of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2004 being used to stamp out homophobia in the workplace.

Last week reported that a factory worker in Yorkshire who was suspended for complaining about anti-gay graffiti was awarded £17,000 by a tribunal.

Stephen Frost, who is director of workplace programmes at gay rights organisation Stonewall, said that these rulings send a strong message to business:

“This goes to show that the law really has teeth and it should bring home to employers that they need to take sexual orientation discrimination just as seriously as other forms of discrimination,” he said.

Stonewall work with some of the country’s biggest employers to establish best practice and stamp out homophobia in the workplace.

“Retrospective action is no substitute for having a robust and substantial diversity policy in place so that situations like this need not arise in the first place,” said Mr Frost.

At last month’s hearing Mr Ditton told tribunal chairman June Cape how his mistreatment caused him to become stressed and he began drinking more.

The size of the award is due to the highly-paid nature of the job – the tribunal awarded him £76,937 for pecuniary loss and £10,000 for injury to feelings.

Ms Cape called the behaviour of Mr Paul malicious and oppressive.

Paul, a former police officer, allegedly threatened to send “some police friends to visit” if Mr Ditton contacted the office again after he had been fired for being “psychologically unbalanced.”

“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,” Ms Cape said, according to the BBC.

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

She awarded Mr Ditton a total of £118,309.

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