In Mr M Holden and Mr C Holden v The Strands Hotel Mark and Christopher Holden were employed at The Strands Hotel in Nether Wasdale, Seascale, between June and August 2018, as reported in News and Star Cumberland.
They claimed they were unfairly dismissed on grounds of discrimination and sexual orientation, but a tribunal held in Manchester found that the evidence they gave, “simply lacked credibility”.
Mark and Lesley Corr, joint owners of The Strands Hotel, denied that Mark Holden was dismissed but said that Christopher Holden was dismissed on grounds of gross misconduct.
Mr and Mr Holden alleged that kitchen porter Derreck Patton and chef John Evans commenced “a campaign of harassment” against them, calling them both a number of homophobic slurs and stating that “they hated gays”.
During the hearing, Mr Evans said that he was not homophobic, nor had he witnessed any homophobic behaviour from Mr Patton, who has since died, or anyone else with whom he worked.
The Tribunal heard evidence from other witnesses and found that on balance, they all gave “consistent oral evidence rebutting the allegations of homophobic abuse”.
Mr and Mr Holden also claimed that Mrs Corr told the couple not to kiss when saying goodbye.
She disputed that she ever told them to stop kissing and said she “had no issues with them cuddling”. She said she had been invited to their wedding.
Mark Holden alleged that he overheard customers talking with staff about “the new gay management couple” and said he found it offensive that staff were discussing his sexual orientation with customers in a derogatory manner.
This was denied by Mr and Mrs Corr and the witnesses they called. The Tribunal found no evidence of unwanted comments that were made of this nature with the purpose of violating Mr Holden’s dignity.
Mr Corr was alleged to have insisted that Mark Holden wrote on quiz sheets given to customers: “The Quizmaster has the final say, even though he is Scouse and Gay”.
Mr Holden argued that he was “pressurised” into doing this by Mr and Mrs Corr.
But the Tribunal did not accept this was the case, after hearing “convincing” evidence from Mr Corr, who said that that he told Mr Holden it was “inappropriate” to use those words.
Employment Judge Johnston concluded that it was an “unfortunate case” as the Tribunal sensed that there was a genuine affection between the parties during their time together.
A complaint seeking notice pay was successful and Mr and Mrs Corr will pay Mr and Mr Holden £400 each in respect of this.
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