A gay man who was described as a “f**got” by a work colleague has been awarded €27,000 over being continually harassed in the workplace on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
At the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the man stated in evidence that a co-worker told another worker that the complainant “is a f**got” and went on to say: “I better not sit beside him, or I’ll catch the gayness from him.”
The complainant told the WRC that the comments were aimed at him on a daily fashion and there was constant sniggering and juvenile stereotypical references made in his company, all of which made him feel under threat and humiliated.
The man said that it was well known in the company that he was gay, and he suffered direct discrimination as a result of his sexual orientation.
The man worked as a scheduler for an installation provider and he told the WRC he was in constant fear and worry at work.
He said it was the most hostile work environment he had ever worked in.
He said his mental health was suffering incredibly, to such an extent, that he was treated for depression and ended up in a hospital A&E department with panic attacks.
The complainant stated that his own team leader intervened and defended him on many occasions.
WRC adjudication officer, James Kelly said he found the complainant’s evidence “to be very credible”. He said the employer had discriminated against the man on the grounds of his sexual orientation and the complainant had been harassed.
Mr Kelly stated that the events described have been corroborated for a large part by a female co-worker.
He said the unwanted conduct at the workplace, relating to the complainant’s sexual orientation, “had the purpose and effect of violating his dignity”.
Mr Kelly said: “It has without doubt created an intense, hostile, humiliating and offensive environment for him in the workplace.
“It had a great burden on his physical and mental health where he was hospitalised.”
He said the employer had not mounted a defence that it took steps to prevent the harassment and is therefore liable for the harassment suffered by the complainant.
A representative for the company was in attendance at the WRC hearing and said that the particular office that the complainant had worked in had closed down and all the staff had moved on.
The company stated that it held no records on the allegations or statements from the relevant people cited by the complainant.
It said it was not in a position to rebut the allegations raised.
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