Irish gay man awarded €8,000 after being harassed with derogatory slurs in the workplace

The Workplace Relations Commission has ordered a recruitment agency to pay a trainee employee €8,000 after he was harassed by a Christian co-worker.

Harassed workplace

A 29-year-old gay man has been awarded €8,000 after a Christian colleague allegedly harassed him in the workplace over his sexuality.  

The former trainee recruiter told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that while he was working for a recruitment agency, the recruitment consultant would refer to certain places as being “full of fairies and f*ggots”. On numerous Fridays, his colleague said to him, “Don’t catch anything over the weekend”, which he interpreted as a derogatory reference to his sexuality.  

On the last day of his employment in the agency, November 15, 2018, the consultant told the office, “If we need him, we will find him on Grindr” as the trainee recruiter was preparing to leave. The employee expressed to the WRC that he was “horrified” by her statement. As stated in the case, “He felt shamed for who he was in the presence of a co-worker and cried.”

WRC Adjudication Officer, Patsy Doyle, has ordered the agency to pay €8,000 as it was found that “on the balance of probability, I find that the complainant experienced the commentary he reflected in his evidence.” Doyle also noted the trainee attempted to raise these issues with his employers during November 13, 2018, however they were overlooked due to his performance shortfalls at the time. 

However, Doyle rejected the argument that the workplace demonstrated a strong religious ethos which was hostile towards homosexuality. She said, “The situation was compounded by the lack of a procedural framework to address this climate.”

The recruitment agency, which covers IT, Health, and Manufacturing sectors, has denied the workplace claims made by the trainee employer. The consultant has also dismissed the alleged derogatory terms, stating that her Born Again faith did not enter into her employment as “she was not there to judge” and “was not ashamed to be Christian”.

Separate claims over discriminatory dismissal were not taken forward as the decision to dismiss the trainee was not found to be based on his sexual orientation. Doyle ruled that the employee had been harassed in the workplace, which caused him to feel degraded during his time in the agency.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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