Lesbian couple awarded more than £22,000 for discrimination and unfair dismissal

A lesbian couple who were “humiliated” by sexual jokes at work have won more than £22,000 in compensation.

Saleswomen Beth Moules and Sharleen Amos, who worked at water purifier firm Aquatec, were told their relationship was “disgusting” by colleague Peter Thoburn. When they complained, boss Stephen Baker-Joy, 57, told them “lesbians never had and never would suffer in the way that Jews had”. He said Thoburn would not be sacked, adding: “Don’t expect anything to be done about it.”

Thoburn allegedly told staff they had performed a threesome with another manager, joking that he was “the meat sandwich between them”.

Within days of her complaint, Amos was fired over the phone. Her partner then resigned and claimed constructive dismissal.

A panel at Bristol Employment Tribunal on Monday awarded Moules £7,142.30 for unfair dismissal. Amos was awarded £5,000 for unfair dismissal in line with an out-of-court settlement she reached with the firm.

Aquatec was previously ordered to pay each woman £5,000 for injury to feelings for discriminating against them on the ground of their sexual orientation.

In its judgment on liability, the tribunal ruled: “Thoburn described the claimants’ conduct as ‘disgusting’, an epithet which, we concluded, he would not have applied to persons who were not homosexual, and in that sense it was less favourable treatment.”

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