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Worker claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment

21 July 2008

In a case that exposed series homophobic insults and cruel, offensive behaviour, a gay man sued his former employer, Griffin Signs Ltd. for unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment. Dale Grimshaw complained about offensive language and behaviour and was told the problem would be addressed, but instead Dale felt he was increasingly ignored and sidelined. Eventually this led to him being prescribed anti-depressants by his GP and being signed off sick for two weeks with stress. Sadly, when he returned to work, the homophobic abuse got even worse and he made a formal complaint, which he says was ignored. It was not until two months later, after he’d raised a further complaint, that he received a response, which said the offending colleague had been asked to be polite or not speak to him.

Then in March 2006, Dale Grimshaw was shocked to be told he was being made redundant from Griffin Signs Ltd. He had not been told previously this might happen or been consulted, and proper procedures were not followed. Dale also felt he was unfairly selected for redundancy because he is gay and because he had already raised grievances about homophobia in his workplace. Dale claimed discrimination and victimisation on grounds of sexual orientation and unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal. He contended he was subjected to a long period of abuse in the context of a canteen culture of homophobic discrimination and hostility in which the directors of his employer and various employees were not properly reprimanded.

Dale won his automatic unfair dismissal claim but lost his claim for discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation on the basis that his claim was out of time and because there was no continuing act (generally there is a 3 month time limit within which to file an employment tribunal claim). It was found that his dismissal was not to be a part of a continuing act of discrimination and the last act of harassment and discrimination was found to be no later than August 2005.

Dale is appealing to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the basis that the Tribunal was wrong when it concluded there was no continuing act. Dale argues that the 18 incidents and remarks he complained of formed part of a continuing act. He also argues that there was a continuing omission, in that his employer failed to deal with the issues he raised, by conducting a formal investigation or initiating any disciplinary proceedings and so discrimination was allowed to take place by effectively tolerating and condoning it.

The Appeal will be heard at the Employment Appeals Tribunal this year.