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Gay man subjected to 'don't catch anything' jibes awarded €8,000

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The complainant said he was ‘horrified’. Picture posed

The complainant said he was ‘horrified’. Picture posed

The complainant said he was ‘horrified’. Picture posed

A gay man who was allegedly told by a born-again Christian colleague, "Don't catch anything over the weekend" has been awarded €8,000 for enduring sexual harassment at work.

At the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the former trainee recruiter (29) stated that his born-again Christian colleague referred to certain entertainment venues as being "full of fairies and f****ts".

The recruiter viewed this comment by the recruitment consultant as a derogatory reference to his sexual orientation and he found it offensive.

Concerning his colleague's alleged "don't catch anything over the weekend" comment on more than one Friday, the recruiter interpreted this as a reference to his sexual orientation and by association a sexually transmitted disease.

The recruiter claimed that while he was preparing to leave his employment on November 15, 2018, the born-again Christian colleague addressed the office by saying, "If we need him, we will find him on Grindr", an online dating site for gay, bisexual and transsexual individuals.

The recruiter told the WRC that he was "horrified" by such a remark.

WRC adjudication officer Patsy Doyle found that "on the balance of probability, I find that the complainant experienced the commentary he reflected in his evidence" and ordered the agency to pay €8,000 for the sexual harassment of the trainee recruiter.

Ms Doyle found the recruiter did try and raise the initial comments with the employer on November 13, 2018, but they got lost in the primacy of his performance shortfalls, which was a major consideration for his employer alongside his personal issues.

Overlooked

"At that time, I must accept that the complainant was feeling very vulnerable, and this seems to have been overlooked by the respondent," she said.

Ms Doyle stated that she rejected the argument advanced by the complainant that the workplace had a strong religious ethos which frowned on homosexuality.

Ms Doyle confirmed that she accepted that the comments happened and constituted sexual harassment, which caused the complainant to feel degraded.

"The claim for sexual harassment is well-founded," she added.

The recruitment agency is a general recruitment agency covering the IT, health and manufacturing sectors and has 65 employees.

It denied the workplace claims made by the trainee recruiter.

The recruitment consultant denied she had said any of the comments attributed to her regarding the complainant's sexuality.

She also denied she had addressed sexual innuendoes toward the complainant.

She denied any discrimination and recalled that the complainant was unhappy in his job, frustrated by his performance, had a lot going on personally and financial troubles.

Ms Doyle found that the complainant's separate claim for discriminatory dismissal is not well-founded as the decision to dismiss the complainant was not linked to his sexual orientation and it was not the operative cause for his dismissal.