Russell Jones & Walker has won a claim (Case number: 609803.1) of adopting ‘an anti-gay policy’ against the new owners of London’s oldest gay pub on behalf of Mr Charles Lisboa, 41, who joined the Coleherne Arms as Assistant Manager shortly before it re-opened as the Pembroke Arms in December 2008.
The pub, regarded as London’s first ‘gay pub’, had attracted an exclusively gay clientele until its acquisition by Realpubs in 2008. The new owners stated that they intended to refurbish the pub and re-package it as a gastro-pub, to attract patrons from a wider section of the community.
However, soon after the pub re-opened as the Pembroke Arms, Malcolm Heap, Director at Realpubs, expressed concern to staff that the clientele had not really changed. The Tribunal accepted that Mr Heap, along with Jimmy Sydney, the pub’s General Manager, took various steps to ‘de-gay’ the pub, including putting a sign up outside proclaiming, ‘This is not a gay pub’.
Mr Heap also stressed in an email to one of Realpub’s investors that he was attempting to ban the pub’s ‘over the top’ customers.
Mr Lisboa was uncomfortable with the stance taken by Realpubs’ management regarding their attitude to him and the pub’s gay customers. On one occasion, Mr Lisboa was asked by Mr Heap to reprimand a gay couple for their behaviour, referring to them as ‘queens’. Mr Heap then went on to say that Mr Lisboa was ‘another kind of gay’. On a separate occasion, Mr Heap stated that one of Mr Lisboa’s colleague’s ‘walked too camp’.
Only four weeks after joining the Pembroke Arms Mr Lisboa tendered his resignation due to sex discrimination.
The London Central Employment Tribunal has upheld Mr Lisboa’s claim that he was the victim of discrimination at work and awarded him compensation. However, his claim of constructive dismissal was deemed unsuccessful.