A GAY quality assurance officer who was harassed and eventually dismissed by a West Yorkshire food company over `offensive and homophobic' graffiti has won compensation.
Chris Martin has been awarded over £17,000, including aggravated damages, by an employment tribunal.
Mr Martin, 32, has been made the award by a Leeds employment tribunal which found he had been the victim of discrimination and harassment which culminated in his dismissal by Parkam Foods Ltd, Liversedge, after he was suspended for complaining about humiliating, pornographic graffiti against which his name was later written.
The award, which his legal advisors, national law firm Corries Solicitors, York, says indicates how seriously the tribunal viewed the case, has been made after he won what is among only a handful of successful claims of sexual harassment under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2004 this autumn.
In making the award, which includes various other small incidental payments, the tribunal said that £10,000 was for injury to Mr Martin's feelings and a further £5,000, plus interest, was for aggravated damages for how he was treated by Parkam Foods after he made his complaints which the tribunal found were never properly dealt with.
Mr Martin resigned from his job as a quality assurance officer with Parkam Foods, part of the Parkam Group, in November 2005, after being made to feel `like a piece of dirt' by managers when he continued his complaint about the graffiti.
Mr Martin, of Liversedge, who has now started a new job in retailing, said of the award: "I am delighted that such a substantial award has been made in recognition of what I was put through which was a very distressing and totally unnecessary ordeal.
"The tribunal has supported my view that the management at Parkam Foods was totally inadequate when it came to trying to investigate my complaint and tried to blame me instead. I have never received any sort of gesture of goodwill or apology of any sort.
"I did not really pursue this for money or necessarily just for myself. The way Parkam Foods responded to something which could easily have been addressed was clearly wrong and totally misguided.
"I hope that the employment tribunal judgement and this award demonstrates to other people whatever their sexual orientation, colour, creed or age that they do not have to put up with workplace bullying and that there is help out there if they have a genuine case and are prepared to stand up for themselves."
Mr Martin's solicitor, Juliet Dehghan, head of Corries Solicitors Employment Law Team, said: "A damages award on this scale is a clear vindication of our client. Luckily our client did not suffer any long lasting psychological damage which is a tribute to his fortitude and bravery."