Persecuted at work because he's gay

Persecuted at work because he's gay

SINGAPORE - In what is believed to be a first here, a local man has sued his former company, claiming he was harassed into leaving his job because he is gay.

In papers filed in the High Court in December, Mr Lawrence Bernard Wee Kim San, who turns 40 this year, is claiming "constructive dismissal" against Robinsons.

He says his former boss at the departmental store, Mr Jim McCallum, had harassed him because he did not agree with Mr Wee's homosexuality.

He worked for Robinsons for six years before leaving last August.

In its defence, the store denies Mr Wee's claims of "biasness", "unfair treatment" or "persecution" by anyone at Robinsons, or that he faced "difficulties" or "threats" when he wanted to leave the company.

It said Mr Wee had made the decision to leave last June "to pursue other interest, outside of Robinsons effective 2013" (sic).

It also said that Mr McCallum, whom Mr Wee has accused of treating him unfairly, was the one who had approved his promotions and salary increments.

In his affidavit, Mr Wee claimed he resigned from Robinsons last August "not as a matter of choice", but due to "unrelenting and unceasing persecution" by Mr McCallum, who is the Asia head of the store's Middle-Eastern owner, the Al-Futtaim Group.

Mr Wee claimed that in April or May last year, his direct supervisor, Mr Shia Yew Peck, was told by Mr McCallum that "anything from Lawrence cannot be right to begin with as Lawrence is wrong already as a person".

A few months earlier, Mr Shia, who has known since 2006 that Mr Wee is gay, had allegedly asked him whether he had ever considered turning "straight".

The supervisor later explained that Mr Wee would then be deemed more "normal" and "accepting" to others, especially his bosses, he added.

Last June, Mr Wee started talking about leaving the store and he claimed he had a discussion with Mr Shia.

In that discussion, Mr Shia shared how it was unfortunate that Mr Wee's career at the store would be prematurely terminated primarily due to Mr McCallum's personal bias against him because of his sexual orientation,Mr Wee said in his affidavit.

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