Singapore gay man loses first of its kind workplace discrimination court case

A gay man, who brought a civil suit against his former employer, has been ordered to pay S$20,000 in legal costs

Singapore gay man loses first of its kind workplace discrimination court case
31 May 2014

A gay Singaporean man, who brought a civil suit against his former employer for ‘forced resignation’, has had his appeal dismissed by the Supreme court on Thursday.

Lawrence Bernard Wee Kim San, 40, who said he was harassed into leaving his job as a senior manager at a well-known retail store Robinsons in August 2012, was also ordered to pay S$20,000 (US$16,000) in legal costs.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the High Court in December last year.

Wee claimed that although he had resigned, it was a case of ‘constructive dismissal’ whic. The term describes a situation where an employee resigns because his or her employer has made working conditions unbearable.

He had worked in the company from 2006 to 2012, during which his monthly salary had doubled from S$7,200 to more than S$16,000.

Singapore’s Today newspaper reported that Wee was paid four months’ salary in lieu of notice although the terms of his contract only stipulated a payment of two months’ salary in lieu of notice, as well as cash for his unconsumed annual leave.

As the case was ongoing, Wee had also filed a constitutional challenge last August which sought a declaration from the court that Article 12 of Singapore’s Constitution, which provides for the equal protection of the law, prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Wee’s lawyer M Ravi had also filed and later withdrawn three intervention applications – by an ‘androgyne’, a ‘transvestite’ and a ‘bisexual’ man – who sought to join as plaintiffs to Wee’s case.

Wee withdrew his appeal in April this year.

The Attorney-General had applied to have the case struck out on the basis that it was not sustainable in law, was frivolous and vexatious or was otherwise an abuse of the Court process, Today newspaper reported in April 2014.

Wee had no comment when contacted by Gay Star News today. However he confirmed that his legal costs for his civil suit will be self-funded while the US$7,890 raised via Indiegogo will go towards the costs incurred for the constitutional challenge.

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