Sevi Omooba was dismissed by Leicester’s Curve Theatre in 2014, six days after posting on Facebook “I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”
A virtual Tribunal heard of the social media backlash and an exchange between the theatre and Ms Omooba in which she maintained her views. The Tribunal also received information that the theatre had offered her full salary which she refused, instead choosing to bring legal action against the Trust for £4,309 from the theatre plus a further £25,000 for injury to feelings and reputational damage.
Ms Omooba also pursued a claim against her former agency from which she was also subsequently dismissed following news of the comment claiming £98,752 for loss of earnings, future losses, injury to feelings and reputational damage.
Ms Omooba’s claims of discrimination, harassment and breach of contract were rejected by the tribunal who dismissed her suggestion that the dismissal amounted to discrimination on the grounds of religious belief. Moreover, the Tribunal panel concluded the reason for the dismissal was “the effect of the adverse publicity from [the 2014 post’s] retweet, without modification or explanation, on the cohesion of the cast, the audience’s reception, the reputation of the producers and ‘the good standing and commercial success’ of the production, that were the reasons why she was dismissed”.
In relation to the harassment claim, the panel concluded: “In the view of the tribunal Mr Stafford [Chris Stafford, chief executive of Leicester Theatre Trust] did not have the purpose of violating the claimant’s dignity or creating an intimidating or humiliating environment for her. His purpose was to save the production.”
The claimant’s argument that her characters sexuality was ambiguous and “she would have refused the role if she had considered her gay” was rejected by the panel who concluded “She had taken part in a similar production, she had the script, and knowing that a lesbian relationship was at least one interpretation, she should have considered much earlier whether a red line was to be crossed.”