Sexual Orientation Discrimination Case Settled for £30,000

06 February 2017

An Employment Law Case Study.

Client Situation

Mr R worked for his employer for over 5 years. He was an openly gay man and sometimes took part in friendly 'banter' around the office. However, things escalated when a new line manager started and made offensive comments to our client. Mr R felt offended by the comments and kept copies of emails sent to him on the work computer, in which he was called inappropriate names.

Mr R asked the line manager to stop making comments in an informal conversation but he continued. Comments were also made in the open plan office. The tipping point was when the line manager groped Mr R at a work function and made inappropriate sexual comments. Our client was too afraid to attend work after that incident and was signed off for anxiety and stress at work. Unfortunately, none of Mr R's colleagues would stand up for him. Mr R felt isolated and vulnerable as a result of his line manager's actions.

He called our Employment Solicitors for legal advice as he was worried no one would believe him and he was afraid to face his line manager. He was unsure whether to resign or what his rights were on sexual orientation discrimination and harassment.

How We Helped

Our Employment Lawyers advised Mr R on a fixed fee basis, initially providing telephone advice. He then instructed us to conduct a complex written investigation report setting out his options and legal rights. The matter was complex as we had to advise on sexual orientation discrimination and harassment claims. We advised him to raise a formal grievance against his line manager.

The employer delayed in dealing with the grievance and was unsupportive throughout the grievance investigation. Mr R's access to his work emails was suspended by his employer when he raised his grievance which we advised was an act of victimisation, and a further act of discrimination. Mr R's grievance was not upheld as they said that Mr R has participated in the 'banter' and therefore it was not unwanted conduct (harassment) or discrimination. We advised Mr R to appeal the grievance outcome, which he did.

Due to the limitation deadlines being imminent Mr R instructed us to lodge an Early Conciliation claim. We lodged the Early Conciliation forms on his behalf and drafted a Letter Before Action. Several lengthy letters were exchanged between ourselves and Mr R's employer as they initially rejected our first offer to settle.

A commercial offer of £3,000 was made by Mr R's employer and evidence was exchanged between parties over a course of a month as part of heavy negotiations. This resulted in an increased offer of £9,000 from the employer. We continued to negotiate until we obtained a £30,000 tax free settlement for our client.

The Outcome

Mr R was very happy with the tax free severance package of £30,000, ten times the amount his employer first offered him. Mr R said that he was very grateful for the solicitor's support during a very stressful time and impressed with her negotiation skills.

Mr R was able to move on and find work elsewhere in a better working environment.

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