Man 'victimised' short colleague

A LABORATORY worker accused of repeatedly harassing and victimising a colleague because he was short has lost an unfair sacking claim.John Houghton is alleged to have pinned humiliating notes on a board and made offensive comments towards Tim Wilson while the pair worked at Newmarket firm XPLOR Ltd.

A LABORATORY worker accused of repeatedly harassing and victimising a colleague because he was short has lost an unfair sacking claim.

John Houghton is alleged to have pinned humiliating notes on a board and made offensive comments towards Tim Wilson while the pair worked at Newmarket firm XPLOR Ltd.

But after he was dismissed from the company, 65-year-old Mr Houghton took his case to an employment tribunal.

During April's hearing in Bury St Edmunds, he denied having done anything wrong and said the company had acted unreasonably in response to what were trivial incidents.


You may also want to watch:


But now the three-member tribunal panel has announced that his claim has been dismissed.

“Having considered all the evidence, the tribunal has come to the conclusion that the conduct of the respondent in dismissing the claimant fell within the band of a reasonable response by a reasonable employer,” said Tim Archer, tribunal chairman.

Most Read

Three weeks before his sacking Mr Houghton had been issued with an official warning over his behaviour, the tribunal had been told.

Laboratory technician Mr Wilson said his colleague had subjected him to repeated harassment and victimisation at the firm's premises in Newmarket.

The tribunal was told that Mr Wilson was “incredibly sensitive” about his height.

Incidents which led to Mr Houghton's dismissal had included him announcing on Mr Wilson's arrival at a meeting in front of a dozen colleagues: “Here is a small stool for a little man”.

Paper notices had also been fixed to Mr Wilson's back, words written in marker pen on his chair and a newspaper cutting and a postcard, both using the word “little”, were pinned to a noticeboard.

Mr Wilson, who no longer works for the company, said: “All in all, I found John's constant comments to me a drain and very humiliating.”

But Mr Houghton, of St Phillips Road, Newmarket, told the tribunal that he had not meant to be malicious and did not realise he had caused such offence.

He denied waging a campaign against Mr Wilson, who had worked in the same laboratory as him for four years, and said references to “Little John” on the newspaper cutting and postcard had been a joke against himself.

Director Peter Noon, who heard the case against Mr Houghton and subsequently decided to dismiss him, said he considered the “Little John” references to be a jibe against Mr Wilson.

Mr Houghton had not used the name Tim because it would have amounted to gross misconduct, added chairman and company founder Graham Henderson.

An appeal against the dismissal decision had been unsuccessful.

Rejecting Mr Houghton's claim of unfair dismissal, tribunal chairman Mr Archer said that the misconduct which led to his sacking came at a time when he was already subject to a written warning that any further problems would result in dismissal.

XPLOR Ltd, who trade in Newmarket as Chemtest and employ 100 people, had strongly contested Mr Houghton's claim throughout the hearing.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter