Gay energy worker won £ 35,000 payout after staff repeatedly used homophobic slurs and boss told him he was fed up with Gay Pride “rubbing his face “.
Dan Robson, 28, was harassed about his sexuality on a daily basis during the six months he worked as a consultant at Northern Gas and Power (NGP), the Leeds Labor Court hearing said.
It consisted of being called a “f *** ing f **** t”, meaning “m *** e faster” to get to work on time and the repeated use of insults homophobic, including “queer, fairy, p * * f, p *** er, b *** er, m *** er or f **** t ‘.
The court heard that when Mr Robson first joined the company, he was greeted by a colleague yelling, “Great, there’s a fucking dick in the office.”
Another jibe featured a staff member having him choose between fancy treats in the shape of a penis or a woman’s breast.
A senior colleague, who said gay sex was ‘unnatural’, later described Mr Robson’s resignation as a ‘good cleanup’, prompting him to report it to police as a hate crime.
Mr Robson has now secured substantial compensation after taking the northern-based company to court for harassment, victimization and constructive dismissal.
And the panel found the company’s failings so serious that it ordered NGP to pay an additional fine of more than £ 18,000 to the government.
Dan Robson (pictured above), 28, suffered daily harassment about his sexuality during the six months he worked as a consultant at Northern Gas and Power (NGP), the hearing of the labor court in Leeds.
The hearing was told that Mr Robson, a university graduate, who was the only gay member of staff, had started working at the company’s Leeds office in January 2019.
The day before his start date, he had filled out the company’s equal opportunity form in which he identified himself as a gay man – but the company did not keep the document confidential.
As a result, on his first day Karl Manterfield shouted as he walked in: ‘Great, there’s some fucking shit in the office,’ which other staff laughed at, the court heard.
Describing himself as “stunned and deeply upset”, Mr Robson told the hearing: “It was clearly considered funny for someone to make such a remark.”
Although he chose to try to ignore the incident first because he was new to the job, Mr. Robson found himself facing repeated harassment.
The court found that “the culture of the Leeds office was accurately described as ‘toxic’ involving the daily use of racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic language that some managers and senior executives have actively engaged in seeing as an acceptable joke. between friends and colleagues ”.
He said remarks such as Mr Manterfield’s were seen as “jovial jokes”, adding: “Daily homophobic slurs were used in the office as part of normal conversation”.
The court heard that the following month, “on a closer look”, Chris Price told Mr Robson and other members of his team that two men having sex were “unnatural and not well”.
Then, in March, her boss Graeme Peat mentioned the annual Gay Pride event.
“Mr. Peat was browsing social media on his phone and saw that Gay Pride was a topic of discussion,” the court said.
“He said he was fed up with seeing things about it when he was ‘at least 3 months away’, addressing his comment to (Mr Robson).
“(He) sensed that Mr. Peat was trying to provoke a debate and urged him to respond, as his role was to defend Gay Pride. (He) tried to explain why it was a celebration.
“Mr. Peat said he was going to launch Straight Pride in retaliation for gays who rub Gay Pride in his face.
“(Mr. Robson) described how the comments made him very angry. He felt like he was being forced into a conversation he didn’t want to have with his manager.
“Then he lingered on that conversation and found it hard to forget it. It was a humiliating, unnecessary and degrading experience, leaving the Applicant to fear what his manager might say next.
At the hearing, Mr. Peat denied this account of the conversation. However, the court sided with Mr. Robson.
Then, in June, his colleague Kieran Dixon – whom the court heard he had previously called into the office “oi, ya fucking shit” to Mr. Robson – handed out novelty treats.
“Mr. Dixon gave penis-shaped candy to his female colleagues and breast-shaped candy to his male colleagues,” the court said.
“(Mr. Robson) remembers when Mr. Dixon came over to give the applicant a candy he said,” Ha ha. I don’t know which one to give you.
“(Mr. Robson) felt he was put in the spotlight because of his sexual orientation. He was afraid to show his embarrassment. To distract from his sexuality, he chose a breast-shaped pacifier.
“He felt bad afterwards and thought he should have handled the situation differently.”
The court heard that when he complained to NGP director Scott High he was ignored. He resigned his £ 25,000-a-year job four days later after receiving an offer to join an energy start-up.
The audience was told that after his resignation, Mr. Price sent a message to his colleagues saying, “It’s gays, all blacks and ethnic groups gone.” Good cleaning if you ask me ”.
Mr Robson, of Leeds, said he considered the remark “the most hurtful and offensive comment” he had received.
“The effect was degrading as it made her ‘ashamed of me like I was dirty from my sexuality and as such should be removed as I did not conform to the predominantly heterosexual white in the office”, ” the court said.
Confirming Mr Robson’s claims, Judge Rita Rogerson said: “There has been continued very serious conduct, repeated and frequent homophobic abuse by a number of perpetrators, including senior employees and managers at the 6 month course. “
In a statement, Northern Gas and Power Director Paul Barrett said: “Northern Gas and Power is an equal opportunity employer and very proud to have cultivated a diverse workforce.
“In our last report, 10% of our population identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, compared to 2.7% on the national average. We have been recognized for our corporate culture with numerous awards and take the work of supporting our people very seriously.
“We strongly believe that the harassment the court found was an isolated issue and, consistent with our zero tolerance approach, all employees who participated in it are no longer employed.”
He added: “The issues were only brought to the attention of our human resources or management team after Mr. Robson left our job and many specific examples were not disclosed to us until very late. in the court process.
“In our history, we have never had a complaint of this nature before and we are confident that we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Including a further claim that NGP did not help support his dyslexia, Mr Robson was awarded a total of £ 36,707.
The company was also ordered to pay a government fine of £ 18,353 for the “aggravating features” of the discrimination to which he was subjected.