13 May 2014
Docker Awarded Compensation in Unfair Dismissal Case
A docker from Northern Ireland has secured £45,000 in compensation after winning his unfair dismissal from work case.
Martin Sheil, 51, was sacked by Stena Line Irish Sea Ferries after reacting to the latest in a line of homophobic taunts by colleagues.
Mr Sheil took his case before an industrial tribunal, where he argued that his actions were brought about by mitigating circumstances and that his employer had not done enough to prevent him suffering homophobic abuse.
The tribunal ruled in his favour, on the grounds that flaws in Stena Line's investigatory and disciplinary procedures rendered his dismissal "substantively unfair". In addition, it said the company's approach to "unpleasant banter" had been "far too passive".
Speaking in the wake of the ruling, the Equality Commission said the case should serve as a reminder to all employers that they must act upon their harassment and discrimination policies.
Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner at the Equality Commission, stated that firms must "take active steps" to ensure these policies are "known, understood and practised by their entire workforce".
"The tribunal said that, although the company had policies in place that were designed and intended to discourage such behaviour, they received no evidence that they took active steps to prevent it," he commented.
Mr Wardlow added that this case has helped to highlight the "terrible impact" that homophobic abuse in the workplace can have on an individual. Meanwhile, Mr Sheil has expressed his relief following the tribunal's decision and said he is looking forward to getting on with his life.
He stated that his job at Stena Line had been very important to him, while he worked hard to keep his private and work life separate.
Mr Sheil said he ended up enduring "months of abuse in silence", but added that he hopes the outcome of this case will prevent others from having to go through similar torment.
Stena Line is planning to appeal the decision later in the year.