A married father in Leeds is celebrating this week after he was awarded £44,000 at an employment tribunal in Leeds, UK last week, after suffering homophobic bullying at work.
Michael Austin, a straight forty-eight year old has been subjected to a torrent of homophobic abuse from his work colleges simply because he wasn’t a football fan, reports Jason Shaw.
Workers at the packaging firm Samuel Grant bullied Austin for not liking football, which he was informed proved he was gay. According to other employees, the tribunal heard, it was a common inference in “north east England football circles, in that anybody not into football must accordingly be homosexual”.
Mr Austin’s interest in the finer arts fueled the homosexual perceptions of him and subjected him to further bullying. One colleague pretended to have Tourette’s Syndrome, swearing intermittently at him. Austin described the experience as “an absolutely unbearable, dreadful nightmare from day one”
The managing director of the firm Samuel Grant, Ian Laidlaw unfairly dismissed Austin when he complained of the homophobic treatment he had had to endure.
The tribunal said: “It was a series of treatment by two people over a period of several months during which Mr Austin was treated atrociously, by being referred constantly to being gay, homosexual and a crafty butcher (a Northern derogatory term for a gay person). It was extreme, frequent and very unpleasant. All he wanted to do was get out and get on with his job.”
“He was subjected to unwanted religious discussions, then when he made a complaint was dismissed. It has obviously had a deep-seated emotional effect on Mr Austin.” The tribunal found in favor of Austin and ordered the company to pay him £44,000 in compensation.
Regardless of Mr Austin’s sexuality, this verdict sends a clear message that homophobic bullying is not acceptable in a modern work place and has been welcomed by human and gay rights activists and commentators in the UK.