Lee Bennett joined the fraud specialist law firm Bivonas in 2007. His role involved bringing in new work and liaising with barristers outside the firm.

Staff at the firm knew he was gay. One day he found a note written by a senior colleague which claimed that Bennett “takes our cases to his batty boy mate”. It then named the barrister friend in question.

The remark unsettled Mr Bennett who visited his doctor and was signed off ill with insomnia due to work issues.

Mr Bennett’s solicitor then sent a letter to Bivonas complaining about the use of the words “batty boy,” which it described “as a pejorative sexual slur, used to describe, gay, bisexual and effeminate men”.

The Employment Tribunal found that he had suffered unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

It found th
at the note was inherently insulting to Mr Bennett as a gay man because it was a reference to his sexual orientation, and also because it suggested he was passing work to someone else because that person was gay.

Mr Bennett’s case was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Its group director legal, John Wadham, said: “Homophobia will not be tolerated in
the workplace or anywhere else.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of discrimination law.

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