London - A shop assistant, told to pretend he was gay to keep his job in a fashion accessories boutique, has won a payout for discrimination.
Daniel Hart, 31, was urged to hide his true sexuality because his boss believed ‘women and gay men are more qualified for the positions’, a tribunal heard.
Mr Hart, who worked at Amon, a handbags and accessories store, for three months, said the experience was ‘humiliating’.
He took the shop owner, Birmingham Neoglory Ltd, and two of his bosses, Karen Price and Linda Zhang, to an employment tribunal and won £7,840 compensation for harassment under the 2010 Equality Act.
After the tribunal’s judgment was released, Mr Hart, who is bisexual, said: ‘I was told to stay quiet because I would be sacked if they found out. I had to keep pretending I was gay, even though I’m not.
‘It was humiliating that I had to hide who I am just to keep a job.’ The tribunal heard that Miss Zhang, the shop’s Chinese boss, also didn’t like to hire ‘coloured people’ because she considered them ‘lazy, smelly, dirty b******s’.
Mr Hart, from Jarrow, Tyneside, was particularly offended by this opinion because many of his friends were from the ethnic minorities, the hearing was told.
He was initially taken on part-time to work at the Amon store in a shopping centre in Gateshead in November 2017. Evidence given to the tribunal, held in North Shields, was detailed in its judgment. This stated that after a trial day, manager Amanda Tilney was told by Miss Price to tell Miss Zhang that Mr Hart was gay because ‘she does not like men working in the shop unless they are gay’.
In a later phone call Miss Zhang asked the manager if Mr Hart was gay and she confirmed that he was. Miss Zhang commented: ‘Ooo good, the boy seems OK.’
About three weeks later, Miss Price told Mr Hart that Miss Zhang was ‘not to find out he was bisexual as she would not be able to process this and she was only happy for gay men to work in the shop’.
Miss Price had already told Miss Tilney: ‘Amanda, whatever you do don’t tell Linda Dan is bisexual because she wouldn’t understand and it would only lead to one thing, he will have to go.’ After Miss Tilney left, Mr Hart was made acting manager and was involved in hiring more staff. Miss Price told him not to hire men who were not gay because Miss Zhang had said women and gay men were more qualified for the positions.
The tribunal judgment, written by Judge Tudor Garnon, stated: ‘He found this offensive and being bisexual himself it made him feel he, and any prospective candidates for employment, were being judged on sex and sexuality and not capability.’
The judge said Mr Hart was offended by the remarks about sexuality and race.
However, the remarks and instructions relating to race were deemed more significant.