LGBT+

Lesbian Employee Claims She Was Told To Hide Her Sexuality Because Her Boss Was 'Old School'

Ashleigh McMahon has won a discrimination case against her former employer and manager after she was told to hide her sexuality. McMahon worked for Redwood TTM for eight months before being let go.


When she was initially hired, McMahon did not hide who she was, but her boss, Darren Pilling suggested she keep quiet about the fact that she is gay.

According to the court documents, the exact reason was

"…The owner of the business (Mr. Brian Atherton) was old school and that the company did not have any other gay people working for it."

The description of the owner being "old school" has many calling foul.



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Not wanting to lose her job, McMahon complied. However, the request made her uncomfortable. During her tenure with the company, she claims she was subject to discrimination twice over her uneasiness with the arrangement. Once, Pilling requested she remove her radio from the office.

This was particularly telling, as no other employee was asked to get rid of their radio.

"When she asked him if the denial of a radio to her was because she was gay and he was uncomfortable with this he stuttered and went bright red before saying no though he was unwilling to allow her to bring her radio back in until everyone else's radios were removed,"

Eventually, the other employees did have to give up their radios temporarily, but the decision was quickly overturned by the business owner, Mr. Atherton. Despite this, McMahon did not receive permission to bring hers back for 11 more weeks.

The other case of discrimination that McMahon endured concerned the office Christmas party. McMahon decided to sit out, as she was feeling uncomfortable about the whole situation.

However, she was told everyone was accounted and planned for, so she'd have to pay for her ticket anyway.

"She says that she vented this frustration at Mr Pilling but that he merely sat there, stared and shrugged his shoulders before saying that it was her problem."

Pilling's persecution of McMahon feels wrong, but is quite common.



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When she was eventually selected for redundancy, McMahon fought back. She presented the evidence of sexual discrimination, along with unfair treatment at other instances of time working there.

Mr. Pilling disagreed that he ever knew she was gay until she brought it up as one of her complaints during the redundancy appeal process.

Her appeal denied, McMahon took the issue to the courts.


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While some of her complaints surrounding her redundancy were dismissed, her claims of sexual discrimination were upheld.

"…we believed that the claimant did make Mr Pilling aware of her sexuality early into her employment, despite his protestations to the contrary and whilst not considering him to be homophobic in any way we also believed that he did suggest that she kept it under wraps as we felt that the reference to Mr Atherton being 'old school' had a ring of authenticity about it…"

McMahon will receive an award for the grievance to be determined at a later date. While her claims of being terminated for whistleblowing were dismissed, we can hope she receives some small comfort in this vindication.

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