A U.K. man has just won an unfair dismissal lawsuit against his former employer who he claims unjustly fired him following years of homophobic abuse.
40-year-old Ben Plaistow was hired as a prison officer at a correctional center called HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes, England back in 2014. In 2016, he was fired after suffering years of verbal and physical abuse from colleagues when they learned he was bisexual.
According to Paistow’s lawsuit, once word got out that he was bisexual, his supervisor, Vicki Laithwaite, and several other prison officers started harassing him, regularly commenting on his appearance and calling him things like “gay”, “poof”, and “vermin.”
As a result, Paistow tried styling his hair differently and stopped having his eyelashes tinted in an effort to avoid being harassed. But this did little to quell the abuse.
As time wore on, the attacks worsened.
One day, prison officers scribbled all over Paistow’s work bag with pink permanent marker. They also colored on his uniform. When Paistow asked Laithwaite to have the bag replaced, she refused.
Eventually, Paistow replaced the bag himself, only to have his coworkers color the new one pink as well and smear the inside with “fairy cake.” When Paistow complained to Laithwaite, she threatened to have other officers turn in false reports against him to have him fired.
In addition to the verbal abuse and having his personal property vandalized, Paistow also had water thrown on him and was slapped by another coworker during a staff meeting.
“I felt as if all my dignity had been taken away,” he told the court this week.
Paistow was eventually fired in 2016 after being accused of using unnecessary force against a prisoner while breaking up a fight. CCTV and witness testimony from the prisoner involved later determined no unnecessary force was used.
This week, a judge determined Plaistow was unjustly fired because of his sexuality.
“The coloring of the claimant’s bag and the refusal to replace it, meaning that he had to carry a pink colored bag to and at work on a daily basis were acts of harassment designed to create a humiliating or offensive environment,” Judge Ord said.
The judge continued: ” From the earliest days at HMP Woodhill he was subjected to verbal and later physical abuse based upon his sexual orientation. He was unfairly dismissed and his dismissal was an act of victimization.”
I’m sorry, he did what?
” Paistow tried styling his hair differently and stopped having his eyelashes tinted in an effort to avoid being harassed”
Lmao…..I can’t..I just can’t. This isn’t right and I am not trying to victim shame. But, this sounds a little off. Doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just me. I’m sorry I don’t mean to offend anyone. This whole thing is just so crazy. How in the hell did his coworkers get away with this so long. Jesus!
I’m fine with him using die to have the “carpets match the drapes” but tinting his eyelashes is maybe a “bridge too far”?
“HMP”” as in “HMP Woodhill” stands for Her Majesty’s Prison, just to be clear.
The guy was working.
Whatever he was doing to his eyelashes is no reason to be a victim of an homophobic work environment.
He is brave to bring this as a complaint & then to tribunal.
After a promotion I once received then after the weekend I heard things had changed because a ‘good looking bird who the director fancied’ walked in to a branch office looking for any work, got my job & a new position which was sh1te was created for me. While having the whole thing explained to me 8rather unconvincingly, I overheard the loud speaking director tell someone – ‘well it’s backs to the wall with him as he is a queer ba5tard’ – I felt like sh1t, didn’t know what to do so I left the company, wishing I had done something about it.
It is wrong to be made to feel different & face the torture of other folk because of your sexuality.
That means all of us, from colour of hair to piercings to eyelash tints.
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