After being “bullied for months on end” by their homophobic bosses, gay restaurant staff Tim Jeurninck and his husband Marco Scatena were awarded £120,000 in damages.
While working at Piatto on Battersea Park Road in London, the couple were subject to abuse, including “constant slurs” and relentless bullying, the employment tribunal heard.
Following their resignation from the toxic restaurant, the couple sued the London eatery for sexual orientation discrimination. The panel ruled in their favour.
Waiter Jeurninck was awarded £41,732 in compensation and restaurant manager Scatena who part-owned the business received £83,102 in compensation,
Judge Alexander Green, an employment judge, ruled that the couple had been directly discriminated against for their sexual orientation in addition to being wrongfully dismissed.
She stated: “Mr Jeurninck and Mr Scatena have established they suffered from unwanted conduct as a result of their sexual orientation, which had the purpose of violating their dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
“They were quite clearly deeply offended and threatened by the behaviour. They have established that they were harassed because of their sexual orientation.”
As part of the decision process, the panel learned that director Vincenzo Cugno Garrano spoke with Scatena about plans for a joint restaurant between the two Italians, resulting in Scatena investing “all of his personal money”, and multiple loans into the business so he could become a 30% shareholder.
In spite of being one of four directors, Scatena had received no dividend payments since the restaurant’s opening in January 2018.
The panel heard that between June and September 2018 the couple were “on the receiving end of homophobia”.
Examples included a WhatsApp conversation sent by Cugno Garrano in September 2018 to Scatena, which included “offensive” messages “threats of violence” and “homophobic statements”.
The also panel heard how Fabio Corona, one of the other directors, screamed for Jeurninck, calling him “a waitress” while laughing vindictively.
Another reported incident involved Cugno Garrano screaming “an entire monologue” at Jeurninck, telling him that his family in Italy “were the Mafia”, suggesting that they “could harm” his husband’s family. Garrano was said to have also made a hand gesture to Jeurninck, “indicating that he would be killed”.
“We believe there was a sustained campaign that was motivated by homophobic behaviour to force him out of the business” Judge Alexander Green concluded. Adding, “we have seen more than enough evidence to support the latter in terms of offensive and sustained homophobic behaviour. It would be perverse to find otherwise.”
Google indicates that the restaurant has now closed for good.