Page last updated at 16:58 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 17:58 UK

Church's 37,000 award to gay man

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Stephen Price talks to BBC Wales Today after his 35,000 compensation award

A gay man who suffered "grotesquely discriminatory conduct" from the Presbyterian Church in Wales has been awarded 37,000.

Stephen Price, 25, of Clydach near Abergavenny, was bullied out of his job at Coleg Trefeca in Brecon by his manager Mair Jones, aged 40.

A Cardiff tribunal heard Mrs Jones called him a "stupid poof" and gave him pink fairy toilet paper as a gift.

The money was awarded for constructive dismissal and injury to feelings.

The church had denied Mr Price's claim for sexual harassment, constructive dismissal and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

He started as a cheerful and enthusiastic young man and there is no evidence of a vindictive side to his nature nor that his claims were fabricated
Dr Rachel Davies, judge

The tribunal's panel ruled the church's internal investigation into Mr Price's claims of harassment was unfair, unbalanced, confused and contradictory.

Employment judge Dr Rachel Davies said the church's final recommendation that Mr Price should go back to work with Mrs Jones amounted to constructive dismissal.

He was awarded 11,924 for constructive dismissal and 25,000 for injury to his feelings.

She said: "We accept his evidence of Mair Jones's conduct.

Stephen Price and Mair Jones
Stephen Price was asked to return to work alongside Mrs Jones

"He started as a cheerful and enthusiastic young man and there is no evidence of a vindictive side to his nature nor that his claims were fabricated.

"Mair Jones treated him less favourably than if he were a heterosexual man. She subjected him to considerable harassment."

"This was not a one-off situation. We are satisfied this came within the most serious category.

"We have found that Mr Price suffered grotesquely discriminatory conduct on the part of Mair Jones for 10 weeks followed by seriously incompetent discrimination on the part of the church."

Comments

Mr Price, who is openly homosexual, worked as assistant manager to Mrs Jones at Coleg Trefeca, a 250-year-old centre operating as a 37-bed retreat visited by church groups across the UK.

The tribunal had previously heard Mrs Jones had "innocently chosen" a birthday present of toilet roll with pink fairies.

I no longer want to work within the church - in fact, I no longer go to church because of the way I was treated
Stephen Price

Mr Price said Mrs Jones made non-stop comments about sex, including calling him a "stupid poof" and telling other members of staff he "batted for the other side".

Mrs Jones had denied knowing he was gay.

The tribunal had heard that an internal church investigation had upheld claims of aggressive behaviour, foul language and bullying by Mrs Jones, who had worked at the church centre for 10 years.

But the Presbyterian Church in Wales failed to take any disciplinary action against her.

Mr Price was moved to another office in Cardiff after less than 12 months but resigned when he was told to return to the college.

He told the hearing: "I was bullied consistently for no other reason than my sexuality, daily having to put up with either being referred to as a poof or having her talk of homosexuality or sex.

"I was and still am shocked to have been referred to as a poof. I am very proud of both my faith and my sexual orientation."

His mother is a minister in the church, and he had been excited about getting a job in the college.

After the case, Mr Price, who was represented by the LGBT Excellence Centre, said: "I've always wanted to be a church minister but I no longer want to work within the church - in fact, I no longer go to church because of the way I was treated."




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