November 19, 2012
London Court Finds Breach of K in Terminating Man for Facebook Post Opposing Gay Marriage in Church
The Independent reports here that Adrian Smith, who was stripped of his managerial post with the Trafford Housing Trust (the Trust), won his breach of contract claim against his employer. London's High Court found that Mr. Smith had not engaged in "gross miconduct" by posting on this Facebook page his view that gay marriages in the church were "an equality too far." However, the High Court awarded Mr. Smith less than £100 on his breach of contract claim, despite the fact that his slaray had been reduced as a result of his demotion from more than £35,000 to £21,000.
The limited damages may have been the only remedy available to Mr. Smith in a court. He could have taken his case to an Employment Tribunal and gotten more substantial damages, but Mr. Smith claims that he did not bring the case for money. He did it for the principle involved. The Trust has apologized to Mr. Smith and claims that it attempted to settle with Mr. Smith for a much higher amount, but Mr. Smith rejected the offer and chose to proceed with his litigation.
The Trust's action against Mr. Smith is somewhat surprising, given that Mr. Smith does not oppose civil marriage for gay partners. He only spoke out against church marriages for gay couples The Independent even quotes a "gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell" as supporting Mr. Smith:
This is not a particularly homophobic viewpoint, In a democratic society, Adrian has a right to express his point of view, even if it is misguided and wrong.
A spokesperson from Stonewall, an LGB rights charity described the Trust's treatment of Mr. Smith as "a little heavy-handed given that he had temperately expressed his point of view, however disagreeable that point of view might be to many.”
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