Discriminated against on the grounds of her sexual orientation

You may think that this old school attitude went out with the Ark but in this case recently heard by the Liverpool Tribunal, a lesbian employee who was told by her boss to keep her sexuality hidden was found to be the victim of discrimination.

Ashleigh McMahon, who worked as a quality control manager at the Lancashire textiles firm Redwood TTM was told by the MD Darren Pilling, not to make it common knowledge that she was gay because she was the only gay employee and because “the owner of the business was ‘old school’.

McMahon worked for Redwood TTM for eight months until she was made redundant in December 2017.

Claiming discrimination, McMahon told the tribunal she found the request “odd and uncomfortable” but she did as she was told so as not to let it affect her employment.

Pilling denied her ever disclosing her sexuality but the Tribunal favoured McMahon’s version of events.

They found that she had been “discriminated against on the grounds of her sexual orientation” because she was “less favourably treated by being asked not to disclose her sexuality by comparison with a hypothetical person not sharing her protected characteristic”.

This case is a stark reminder that seemingly innocent conversations and remarks can amount to unfavourable treatment, even if the intention isn’t there.

Cover this off in your equal opportunity and bullying and harassment policies, train staff on what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour and never prevent employees from discussing their personal life.

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