And the most surprising bit is..

      1 Comment on And the most surprising bit is..

Ben Plaistow was a prison officer who started working at HMP Woodhill in 2014 after eleven years' service. He's bisexual and suffered direct and indirect discrimination when some other officers became aware of that. In the end, Ben ended up being unfairly dismissed within two years of arriving. (Link to PDF of the Employment Tribunal's report.)

So what's the most surprising bit?

.. that he got called "poof", "gay" and more by them, originally because of his haircut and took more care about his work clothes?

.. that after he came out to his line manager as bisexual when she inappropriately asked if he was gay, the "tone changed from 'you must be gay' to 'you are gay' .. which led him to form the view that she had disclosed the contents of her discussion with him to others, with the other officers not distinguishing between homosexuality and his bisexuality"?

.. that as well as that, he was physically assaulted by the other officers?

.. that both male and female officers did this?

.. that his work bag was repeatedly coloured pink by one or more of them?

.. that he was threatened with false reports of corruption etc being made about him, including by his line manager, if he complained?

.. that when this was investigated by the governor of another prison, that investigation was "wholly lacking in rigour", and retained no notes of evidence or checked with witnesses that its record of their evidence was accurate?

.. that his line manager, on her own evidence, did not ask why a good officer was seeking to transfer to another prison after only two months there?

.. that she also showed "no concern or interest in finding out what had happened" when he was assaulted by a prisoner and was off work as a result?

.. that she was "wrong" to issue a formal warning about his attendance following that short period?

.. that he was told that warning was removed from his record, but a Data Protection Act subject access request following other prisons rejecting him showed that it had not been?

.. that when he did follow the correct procedure for a transfer, the prison governor said that he had not?

.. that this was part of being "unjustly and untruthfully criticised by the most senior staff in the prison" and some evidence from the prison governor was "simply untrue"?

.. that when he raised a grievance against his line manager, he was told – without "any enquiry whatsoever" – that sexual orientation had nothing with it, and to submit it to her for her to decide what action to take?

.. that in relation to another complaint, he was told that "there was no evidence he had been assaulted by any of his colleagues, no evidence that he was abused, threatened or discriminated against on the grounds of his sexuality, or any other reason"?

.. that nine days later he was dismissed for gross misconduct on the basis of a report full of "obvious errors and omissions" (when its author was "asked how he knew documents he had not seen would not have made any difference to his decision he was obstructive and challenging"), a procedure where the Department of Justice delayed when it should not have done but failed to allow Ben and his representative sufficient time to respond, and for an alleged offence that was clearly in the rule book as a lower category of misconduct?

.. that the Ministry of Justice consistently maintained that they'd done everything possible to stop the discrimination, until the first morning of the hearing, when they withdrew that claim?

.. that the Ministry of Justice failed to disclose, as legally required, numerous "obviously relevant documents" until forced to do so?

.. that this was "inexcusable" and clearly "designed to hide the truth from the claimant and the Tribunal and to mislead the Corruption Prevention Unit (CPU)"?

.. that the CPU was deliberately told that action was being taken when it was not?

.. that the Ministry of Justice submitted two materially different versions of what was claimed to be the same document?

.. that the Ministry of Justice merged two documents, including one about another officer entirely, into one, leaving a false impression?

.. that all but one of their witnesses, including five prison governors, who gave evidence "were guilty of obfuscation and gave evasive answers to often the most simple of questions"?

.. that at least one was "deliberately misleading"?

.. that some Ministry of Justice documents were created over eleven months after their purported date to give a "wholly false impression"?

.. that one of the officers claimed Ben "must be" heterosexual on the basis of a believed relationship with a female prison officer?

.. that this is a small sample of the discrimination and malpractice found to have happened?

.. that the Employment Tribunal's report misspells 'bisexual' as "bi-sexual" about half of the time?

.. that the Guardian's report on the case means that, for once, "bisexual" is on the front page of its website in a story about bisexuality?

Story on bisexual prison officer on the front page of the Guardian website

Update: for an hour or two, it was in the lead section of the Guardian website…

Story on bisexual prison officer on the top of the front page of the Guardian website

1 thought on “And the most surprising bit is..

  1. Natalya

    A discrimination employment lawyer type said on twitter she was unsurprised at the lying and document dodginess, just most employers hide it a lot better… I would concur, the only reason the harassment was taken so seriously by the ET is the dodgy document disclosure, the Claimant's lawyer asking for "properties" aka creation dates of documents and the fact many witnesses behaved horribly and could be proven not to have followed proper procedures. If the documents hadn't been SO badly faked and the witnesses hadn't been evasive and aggressive the ET would not have known any better cos it would have been Plaistow's word against others'. Also most employers wouldn't be stupid enough to let this much fail go to ET, they'd have paid Plaistow off, although it sounds like he wouldn't take money as he wanted his job/career back.

    I don't know what the remedy hearing will come up with, annoyingly remedy is often settled outwith the ET so that is never made public, so you don't get to see how much damages are made or if person gets their job (a job) back.

    I got rabbitholed into reading the judgment last night, GRIM reading.

    Reply

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