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Gay video designer sues Microsoft over ‘homophobic’ taunts

Jessica Geen March 24, 2009
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A video designer is suing Microsoft after alleging homophobic abuse.

Jamie Durrant, 38, is suing the corporation for £45,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ and lost pay.

According to the designer, who works on the firm’s Xbox games, he was called “fag boy Jim” by colleagues, who sent mocking emails making fun of his sexuality.

Mr Durrant has worked for 11 years at Lionhead Studios in Guildford, which were bought by Microsoft two years ago. He says the emails began in January last year.

Mr Durrant has said he complained to his human resources department and agreed not to raise a formal grievance to avoid creating an “uneasy atmosphere”.

Instead, he agreed to an email to be sent reminding staff of their diversity responsibilities but several months later, he was told the firm would have to draw up new policies before such an email could be sent.

He then refused to sign a document stating he was happy with how his complaint was being dealt with and agreeing not to raise a formal grievance

Mr Durrant claims the company’s human resources department “blatantly disregarded” his complaint.

He said: “They’re making out that I’m the one with the problem.”

Microsoft is denying the claims and declined to comment.

The tribunal will be held from March 31st to April 3rd.

Last month, Xbox Live players claimed Microsoft had an “anti-gay policy” after gay gamers complained of being harassed by other users and not being allowed to reference their sexuality in their gamer tags.

Xbox Live policy manager Stephen Toulouse said the problem was in determining was a slur or not when used in game.

He added that Xbox Live’s policy team were working on finding “ways to allow customers to express themselves in ways that cannot be misused”, rather than applying a policy the current situation.

Related topics: Employment, England, London

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