Gay former New Look staff member: I felt ‘blatantly discriminated’ against for exclusion from discount

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A former staff member at retail giant New Look has said he was denied the option to use his staff discount for his boyfriend as it is only available for someone of the opposite-sex, and that he felt “blatantly discriminated” against.

New Look has confirmed that its staff discount is “under review”, after a PinkNews investigation revealed that its policy which allows a 50% discount to employees, and the same discount to one other person specifically of the opposite sex, could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Despite that New Look specifically stated that the discount was “absolutely not designed to be a couples benefit”, a leading law firm advised PinkNews that the policy may be in breach of the Act by “indirectly discriminating” against people in same-sex couples.

Joshua Connor, who worked at the Thornaby branch of New Look from March 2009 to September 2011 said he had asked if he could use the discount for his boyfriend, but his manager declined to allow him to.

Speaking to PinkNews, he said: “I had heard some of the girls in the store talking about getting this discount for their boyfriends. So I asked a member of staff at the time and they said I would not be eligible and suggested I got it for my mam or a friend.

“That obviously didn’t go down well so I just kept the discount for myself to use only. I felt at the time that this was blatant discrimination and simply not fair.”

Following the investigation, New Look spokesperson yesterday responded to PinkNews to say: “At New Look we are committed to listening to our employees to make sure they are being treated fairly and we continually review policies to make sure they match this. In light of recent feedback from our employees on our staff discount privileges we are reviewing our current policy in its entirety and ask for sufficient time to complete this.”

Following comments criticising the policy from Tory Vice Chair Michael Fabricant and Labour Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero, the company reiterated that the policy was “under review”, but that “we will not be commenting on the issue further.”

The policy has since been condemned by Stonewall and Tory MP Mike Freer.

Mark Bramwell, a Solicitor at MyLawyer, a firm providing legal services for customers of Barclays, Natwest and RBS, The AA and Admiral, had advised PinkNews that in his opinion: ”This is clearly indirect discrimination of gay staff and a breach of the Equality Act 2010.”