A firefighter who called a gay co-worker “half a man” and “Arthur” has lost his unfair dismissal claim.
An employment tribunal rejected the worker’s claim that the comments related to his height, rather than his sexual orientation.
Firefighter called co-worker ‘half a man’
Philip Staines worked for the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in the UK.
He allegedly asked gay co-worker Johnny Metcalfe “alright Arthur do you want a brew”.
On another occasion he allegedly told him, “you’re not a real man; only half a man”.
Staines also allegedly referred to Metcalfe as “a bent bastard”.
An internal investigation by the Fire Service subsequently found he breached the organisation’s code of conduct.
Prior to the homophobic allegations, the Fire Service issued Staines with a written final warning for referring to a female firefighter as a ‘b***h’.
Firefighter loses unfair dismissal
Staines subsequently filed a claim for unfair dismissal and breach of contract.
However, employment judge Sophie Buckley found Metcalfe reasonably considered the remarks as homophobic.
“I find that the use of language was inappropriate and it demonstrated a lack of judgment and insight.
“Further, it was reasonably considered to be offensive by the recipient.
“In my view, the conduct was certainly sufficient serious to merit dismissal with notice because the claimant was under a final written warning.”
Sexuality discrimination unlawful
Australian industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Dismissals ‘R’ Us says sexuality discrimination is unlawful.
“The minute you start calling people names based on their sexual orientation, you can expect to lose your job,” he said.
“Sexuality discrimination is unacceptable in Australian workplaces, and making fun of someone based on their sexuality qualifies as discrimination.”
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