Wetherspoons worker sacked for calling transgender colleague ‘a thing’ and ‘it’

A close up of a Wetherspoons pub sign

A Wetherspoons kitchen assistant has been fired for gross misconduct after calling transgender colleague “a thing” and “it”.

An employment tribunal heard the details of the Wetherspoons worker’s behaviour this week, after he was fired and subsequently claimed he was unfairly dismissed.

Andrew Rush worked at the Standard Bearer Wetherspoons pub in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. But, in January 2020, manager Keyne Sutherland received a complaint about him using transphobic, sexist and racist language, according to the Mirror.

Kitchen manager Sophie Quinlin made the complaint in the branch’s managers WhatsApp group, describing how Rush misgendered a colleague named Ollie, a trans man, but when he realised his mistake went on to refer to him as “thing” and “it”.

She wrote: “Andrew asked [another colleague] if he knew why Ollie was back and accidentally said ‘she’ and then he was like, ‘Oh FFS, he, her, thing what ever it is. Why is thing back.'”

Quinlin also described cruel teasing by staff, who told Ollie that a female staff member, Ariana Kadira, was interested in a relationship with him. Ollie believed them, and even asked her out on a date, but Kadira was actually in a relationship with Rush.

The tribunal heard that Rush often used racist and sexist language to refer to Kadira, regularly calling her “the Black one”, describing their sex life in “graphic detail” in front of staff without her consent, on one occasion told her she was a “slut and a horrible person”. Kadira said Rush would often apologise, without “actually changing his behaviour”.

Rush’s initial disciplinary hearing at work did not make reference to his transphobic comments, although a senior manager for the pub chain later admitted that they should have been included.

At the time, Rush claimed he had “concussion and PTSD” when he made the racist, sexist and transphobic remarks, and that he had been drinking to cope, adding that he “didn’t really understand what he had said until he said it”.

However employment judge Jean Laidler said: “Mr Rush had disclosed his mental health issues to [Wetherspoons] but they were entitled to conclude that they did not excuse the comments made and words used… Dismissal was clearly in the band when [Wetherspoons] was satisfied that [he] had used inappropriate racial terms and graphic sexual references to a work colleague.”