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New Zealand: Employment Authority to decide on ‘dirty homosexual’ slur

Joseph McCormick November 18, 2012

A New Zealand caregiver who quit his job after being called a “dirty homosexual” by a colleague, has accused his former employer of failing to adequately support and protect him.

Grant White, 49, of Napier, started working for Health Care New Zealand in 2007, but quit in April, after he said that damage done to the relationships between he and his clients, became “unbearable”, reported WAToday.

He said that he had always been private about his sexual orientation, but that he was asked by a colleague, who he told that he was gay, and in a serious relationship.

Mr White said that around six months later, he found out that a colleague had been telling his clients that he was gay, and that he was a “dirty homosexual”.

Some of his clients were mentally disabled, and one of them hit him in the stomach when he found out that he was gay.

Another client of Mr White, an elderly man, begun to act differently, and said he had been told “some disturbing things” when he was asked what was wrong.

Grant White said: “You don’t expect people to embrace everything, but this was particularly vicious.”

He had approached a district manager and lodged a complaint about his colleague, but when no action was taken, he resigned from his position there.

Piers Hunt, representing Mr White, said that he had attended mediation with his colleague, but that Health Care NZ did not offer to settle, and declined a second round of mediation.

He said that the case would now be handled by the Employment Relations Authority, who would make a decision on the matter. Mr Hunt said:

“In this instance there was a particular woman who was speaking badly about Grant and his sexuality and it put him in a situation where a particular client didn’t want him.

“It was a continuous bad-mouthing by this particular person and this was reported by Grant with his immediate supervisor and he didn’t do anything about it.”

Deborah Jones, who had researched sexuality and gender in the workplace as associate professor at Victoria University School of Management, said there was still a lot to learn about the experiences of gay and lesbian employees in the country.

Legislation implemented in the 1980-90s banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, and New Zealand has often been ahead in terms of changing law and social attitude in favour of equality.

Ms Jones said: “Your colleagues and managers have really got to have your back in that situation.”

Health Care New Zealand declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality issues.

More: Employment, Employment, healthcare, New Zealand, New Zealand

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