Gay man loses case against HSBC bank for sexual orientation discrimination

A gay man who demanded £5m compensation from HSBC bank for discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation has lost his case at tribunal.

Peter Lewis, the former global head of equity trading at the bank, was dismissed from his £1m-a-year job in February 2005 for “gross personal misconduct”.

HSBC launched an investigation after one of Lewis’s colleagues alleged that he had performed a lewd act and looked at him while they were at the bank’s gym in November 2004. The company decided that the disputed glance constituted sexual harassment.

In one of the first cases to come before a tribunal under the new sex discrimination legislation – extended in December 2003 to protect gays and lesbians – Lewis argued that he is the victim of homophobic prejudice.

However, the tribunal held the decision to dismiss was not in fact influenced by Lewis’s sexual orientation.

“The decision to dismiss is wholly attributable to a genuine and legitimate conclusion that [Peter Lewis] was guilty of the gross misconduct alleged,” the tribunal held.

The tribunal also held that HSBC’s internal disciplinary hearing and appeal system were not discriminatory.

The tribunal said the reasons given by the HSBC internal appeal panel to uphold the decision to dismiss Lewis reflected a “fair and proper consideration of the available evidence and there is no room to draw any inference from the circumstances of those reasons that they were influenced by the sexual orientation of (Peter Lewis)”.

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