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Designer Accuses Microsoft Of Homophobia

| 24 Mar 2009 20:40
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Jamie Durrant, an employee at Fable developer Lionhead Studios, is suing parent company Microsoft for lost earnings and "hurt feelings" after the company allegedly ignored his complaints about harassment he suffered for being homosexual.

Durrant has been working as a graphic designer at Lionhead for 11 years now, during which time he claims he's been the subject of a large amount of ridicule and harassment because of his open homosexuality. Emails were circulated around the office with titles like "I'm Jim and I'm Gay," "Me and My Favourite Men" and a note was put up in the office kitchen that said "Fag Boy Jim," according to Durrant.

As a result of the abuse, Durrant has taken a hiatus from work to deal with his depression. Now, he's suing Microsoft for 45,000 pounds for lost earnings and emotional damage.

The whole ordeal could have been avoided, but Durrant feels that Microsoft's "homophobic aspects" stopped them from taking his complaints seriously. When Durrant originally brought his complaints to the company's human resources department, he was told that a memo would be sent out addressing behavior in the workplace, but nothing ever happened. Eventually, Durrant was told that in order to do that, HR would have to draw up entirely new policies for the company.

"I was very surprised that Microsoft did not have any policies relating to this sexual orientation harassment," Durrant said.

Later on, Microsoft allegedly asked Durrant to sign an agreement saying that he wouldn't file a grievance and that he was happy with how things were being handled. He refused. Eventually Microsoft offered him counseling, but again, Durrant said no. "I feel like they're making out that I'm the one with the problem and not the homophobic aspects of the company," he said.

"I feel I should be compensated for the stress that this whole complaint procedure has placed on me, the amount of effort and time I have put into trying to get this resolved and acknowledgment that they have done nothing whilst the homophobic harassment continued, making my workplace uncomfortable and unpleasant," Durrant said.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has been in hot water over its attitude toward homosexuality. Last month the company stirred up some controversy for banning a lesbian Xbox Live user who was deemed "offensive" allegedly for referencing her sexuality in her profile.

[Via Telegraph]

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