Nottingham: Gay man sues cinema chain over claims he was sacked due to his sexuality

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A gay man in Nottingham has taken his former employer to court over claims he was sacked due to his sexuality.

Craig Sambrook worked for the cinema chain Cineworld for 16 years before being dismissed in June 2012.

The 33-year-old told Nottingham Employment Tribunal that he was harassed by one of his managers and victimised.

Cineworld denies that Mr Sambrook’s sexual orientation had any effect upon the decision to dismiss him, stating it was due to repeated warnings over poor time-keeping and conduct.

Mr Sambrook claims on one occasion a heterosexual colleague was late for work and not disciplined.

Defending his work ethic, Mr Sambrook said in a statement to the tribunal: “I have always achieved highly appraised performances and appraisals throughout my career.

“I have always received a company bonus when it has been determined by self-performance.”

Disputing Cineworld’s criticism over his punctuality, Mr Sambrook said: “On the 30 October 2011 I was late for work however I did have mitigating circumstances for this, however the company have not accepted these circumstances. 

“My partner was hospitalised due to him suffering an asthma attack in the early hours of the morning on 30 October 2011. After leaving the hospital and arriving home I decided to try and get some sleep so I would look a little refreshed for work and the staff meeting. I had every intention of attending work at my scheduled time however due to the events leading me to attend hospital with my partner, I slept through my alarm.”

The Nottingham Post reports when asked if he believed line manager Katherine Ogden had treated him negatively because of his sexual orientation, Mr Sambrook replied: “Yes.”

Ms Ogden denies the allegations, and cited how she would also give Mr Sambrook time off to attend Pride events.

Ms Ogden said: “He would put holiday requests in and I would accept that. I’m raising that because if I had an issue with his sexuality maybe I would have put a stop to his time off.”

The tribunal heard Mr Sambrook was issued with a verbal warning in May 2011 after some paperwork went missing.

He was then issued with a final written warning in November 2011 for failing to work his rostered hours, before being dismissed seven months later for a similar offence.

He claims Ms Ogden mocked his sexuality by repeatedly using the work “peachy”.

Mr Sambrook claims this term is slang for a gay person, and that it amounted to harassment.

Ms Ogden, however, said the nickname came about as she and Mr Sambrook were talking in her office.

She said: “Craig was talking about getting ready for a big night out and about his personal preparations. I said I bet you would be peachy and smooth, and that’s where it came from.”

When asked by the tribunal whether she thought “peachy” was a derogatory term for a gay man, Ms Ogden said: “No, certainly not.”

The tribunal is now due to make its ruling.