‘Gay banter’ tribunal case blasted as ludicrous by employer

The HR manager at the firm embroiled in a high-profile gay banter case has attacked the “ludicrous” tribunal claim by an ex-employee.

Former sales manager Stephen English claimed to have suffered years of gay taunts from colleagues at the company even though he was straight. His sexual orientation discrimination claim was rejected by the Employment Appeal Tribunal earlier this month. Now the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has vowed to fund the case to go to the Court of Appeal.

Laura Johnston, HR manager at blinds supplier Thomas Sanderson, said she was confident the case would fail at the Court of Appeal, despite the commission throwing its weight behind it.

She said: “We are really confident there is no case [to answer] and not worried it will succeed. There is no merit to this case.”

She advised HR professionals in a similar position to follow a fair and thorough process. “This will give them the confidence to resist submitting to ludicrous settlement claims where an individual is requesting substantial amounts of money,” she said.

Lawyers claim English’s case may have won if it had been considered under the EU equal treatment directive, but due to anomalies in wording between EU and UK law it was dismissed.

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