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Scottish gay man
wins discrimination suit

Scottish gay man
wins discrimination suit

A media sales manager who suffered homophobic bullying and discrimination has been awarded nearly $240,000 compensation.

Jonah Ditton, 32, from Paisley, Scotland, was called "a wee poof" and suffered malicious and insulting abuse on a daily basis from his colleagues. He was fired after just eight days at his new job because company officials said he was not "psychologically balanced."

An employment tribunal awarded him PS118,309 for discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

Calum Irving, a director of gay rights group Stonewall Scotland, called it "the highest award so far in a sexual-orientation employment case."

In what could be seen as slightly inflammatory reporting, the Scotsman newspaper calculated that Ditton's award amounts to about PS30 for every minute that he worked at Glasgow firm CP Publishing Ltd.

Ditton, 32, brought the claim against the firm, which publishes entertainment listings, under the United Kingdom's Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which came into force in December 2003.

A tribunal heard that his boss, Warren Paul, had called Ditton "a wee poof" and said he looked like "a cream puff." On another occasion, Paul commented on a blue tie he was wearing and, on being told it was by Hermes, replied "Oooh, Hermes" in a camp voice.

A few days later, Paul allegedly asked Ditton if he was from Stoke-on-Trent, rhyming slang for "bent."

After Ditton started the job, he soon became uncomfortable regarding his boss's attitude toward gays and ethnic minorities.

On the day Ditton was fired, he had tried to join in a conversation about marriage, but was told by Paul, in an aggressive tone, to "shut it, you wee poof."

Ditton received a phone call that evening and was told he was fired after little more than a week on the job.

The tribunal also heard claims that Paul was a former police officer who threatened to send "some police friends to visit" Ditton if he contacted the office after his dismissal.

"I do not feel my sexuality had any bearing on my ability to do my job. I was truly hurt and upset," Ditton told the tribunal. "They are foul individuals and they should be punished as much as possible."

Tribunal chairman June Cape said, "The conduct of the respondent was high-handed, malicious, insulting, and oppressive. While the claimant was only employed for a short period, the respondent, and in particular Mr. Paul, overtly abused and humiliated him on the grounds of his sexual orientation persistently over that period of time. He found himself being subject to daily abuse in front of those whom he was managing on the grounds of his sexual orientation. The manner of his dismissal was humiliating and degrading."

Irving said the verdict "makes clear more than ever that Scottish employers have a duty to tackle homophobia in the workplace. Apart from destroying a person's career, allowing homophobia to carry on unabated blights the working environment and can destroy a firm's reputation." (Stewart Who?, Gay.com/U.K.)

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