In Mr C G v Swansway Garages Limited CG was mocked by sales manager JG after he found out he dressed up as Santa Claus for appearances in grottos at shopping centres, an employment tribunal heard.
JG would regularly call him a ‘sexual predator’ and joked that he must molest children because he ‘enjoys his role as Father Christmas’. As a result of his sideline, CG was the butt of ‘paedophile’ jokes for three years at the car dealership where he worked, the hearing was told.
After he was sacked for having a fight with a colleague, CG tried to sue Swansway Garages Ltd for sexual orientation discrimination.
A tribunal report stated: ‘His case is that it was finding out about his role as Father Christmas that caused JG to start making comments to the effect that he was a paedophile.’
CG was sacked in August 2020 for assaulting another colleague who had described him as ‘the one that likes to play with kids’.
The tribunal found CG was ‘prone to hyperbole’ after CG went as far as to state: ‘[This] is the most horrific abuse anyone has ever suffered in UK employment history.’
Employment Judge Tim Kenward ruled the abuse was not ‘daily’ as CG suggested but did occur regularly.
It was also heard there was a culture at the Liverpool dealership of ‘vile and abusive’ comments and that CG was an ‘enthusiastic participant’.
A WhatsApp chat set up by JG, which CG contributed to, was regularly used to make offensive comments.
A tribunal report said: ‘Swansway accepted that JG was an individual who had made vile and disgusting comments to CG and other employees, with JG seeking later to explain in such comments on the basis that they were intended to be humorous.
‘Swansway’s position… was that CG ‘s written account involved significant exaggeration and he had sought to embellish his story.’
JG said: ‘At the time I saw this as office banter, I now realise that this behaviour was unacceptable.’
JG said, ‘daily banter’ was ‘a part of culture within the Used Sales Department’ and that everyone including CG were ‘all giving as good as they got’.
WhatsApp messages showed CG posted offensive messages, many of which were homophobic, and some were about child abuse.
Judge Kenward dismissed CG ‘s claim of sexual orientation harassment as he had misinterpreted what it meant.
‘Calling someone a paedophile is not related to his or her sexual orientation’, Judge Kenward said.
‘Because a paedophile could be someone whose sexual orientation was towards persons of the same sex or persons of the opposite sex or persons of either sex.
‘The Tribunal was unable to articulate, distinctly and with sufficient clarity, the feature or features of these comments, which would lead to the conclusion that the conduct was related to the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.’
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