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Lesbian couple win sex discrimination claim

Jessica Geen April 8, 2009
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A lesbian couple who were harassed by colleagues over their sexuality have won their claim for sexual discrimination.

Beth Moules and Sharleen Amos, who both worked as saleswomen at Soundwell-based firm Aquatech Rainsoft, told an employment tribunal in Bristol that they had been ridiculed and humiliated by comments from colleagues over their relationship.

Yesterday, they were awarded £5,000 for hurt feelings, with another settlement for discrimination on the grounds of sexual harassment to be decided. They could get up to £138,000.

They alleged that one colleague, Peter Thoburn, had told staff they had performed a threesome with sales manager Stephen Rosenthal, adding he was ”the meat sandwich between them”.

It was also claimed that Mr Thoburn had said to another colleague: “I don’t know how they can do it … it’s disgusting, I don’t agree with it.”

The tribunal heard that the couple’s boss, Stephen Baker-Joy, had told them to stop complaining because “lesbians had never and would never suffer in the way that Jews had”.

Ms Moules, who represented the couple, told the Evening Post yesterday: ”We’ve won, and they’ve given us the injury to feelings settlement, which is £5,000, but the settlement for the discrimination is still yet to be determined.

”It’s such good news. We’re both really happy.

”The next step forward is to figure out how much we’re going to get. They’ve found in favour of us – that there was discrimination. And that it was significant.”

Last week, a gay games developer who sued Microsoft over alleged homophobic abuse reached a settlement with the company.

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

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

He alleged that the company’s human resources department “blatantly disregarded” his complaints.

The two parties reached a settlement agreement at an employment tribunal held this week in south London.

A confidentiality clause means the terms of the settlement cannot be disclosed.

Related topics: Employment

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