UK

Gay Wetherspoons chef accuses co-workers of bullying him with gherkin and penis straw

Lily Wakefield February 26, 2022
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A close up of a Wetherspoons pub sign

A close up of a Wetherspoons pub sign. (Getty/ Nathan Stirk)

A Wetherspoons chef accused his co-workers of homophobic bullying, but an employment tribunal judge has ruled against him.

The chef was employed at the Wetherspoons Dairyman pub in Brentwood, Essex, and in August 2019 he complained that he was being bullied by co-workers for being gay, according to EssexLive.

Jamie Connolly said he was the victim of homophobic taunts and jokes, and on one occasion a co-worker waved a penis-shaped straw in his face.

He also said that more than one colleague referred to him as “gay boy”, and that an employee waved a gherkin at him.

The pub conducted an investigation into his claims, but found that there was no evidence, and that one employee he had accused had already left her job when she made anti-LGBT+ comments.

Connolly took his case to an employment tribunal, but judge David Massarella found that his manager had appropriately investigated the complaints, and rejected his victimisation claim.

Wetherspoons area manager Alan Duncan had banned an ex-employee who referred to Connolly as “gay boy”, Massarella said, describing the taunt as “disgusting behaviour”.

He said: “Mr Duncan followed the allegations up, including new matters which the chef raised at his interview, he did not hesitate to express himself robustly as to the unacceptability of homophobia in the workplace.”

Massarella found that there was no evidence Connolly had been bullied, adding: “Mr Duncan did not uphold the ‘penis straw’ allegation because there were no witnesses to it (other than the chef himself).

“With regard to the gherkin incident, Mr Duncan concluded that the incident did not take place but ‘partially upheld’ the grievance on the basis the member of staff [who did it] accepted that she did engage in ‘banter’ with him about sexual matters, which Mr Duncan described as ‘totally unacceptable’.”

Connolly was fired sending expletive-filled WhatsApp messages accusing managers of being bad at their jobs, and well as shouting at his bosses and not clocking in.

This, the judge said, did not amount to wrongful termination.

However, Connolly will still be entitled to some compensation because he was not given notice of a dismissal appeal hearing. The amount has not yet been decided.

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