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Bisexual prison officer called ‘vermin’ by co-workers unlikely to work again

Bisexual prison officer called ‘vermin’ by co-workers unlikely to work again

Picture: Matthew Ansley / UnSplash

A bisexual prison officer in the UK is unlikely to ever work again because the harassment he suffered at work has permanently damaged his health, an employment tribunal has found.

In two judgements, courts concluded that Ben Plaistow of Milton Keynes, England, will receive a large compensation payout. But the campaign of hate from colleagues was permanently traumatic.

Co-workers pushed, slapped, and screamed at the 41-year-old. Also, one complained about him for wearing a ‘pressed shirt,’ court documents showed.

What happened?

Plaistow joined HM Prison Woodhill on 7 September 2014. The 41-year-old had worked as a prison officer to varying degrees for 11 years.

He faced a daily deluge of queerphobic discrimination: ‘poof,’ ‘gay,’ and ‘vermin.’

Not only that, but colleagues pushed, slapped, screamed at, pink ‘fairy cake’ smeared inside his work bag, and squirted a bottle of water in his face in the staff room.

As a result, Plaistow took his case to the employment courts.

In the 94 page record of the tribunal case, the claimant itemized 21 points of unfair treatment he received from co-workers across his employment.

HMP Woodhill visitor center in Buckinghamshire, England | Photo: Mr Biz /

This even included a colleague digging their fingernails in his face and another coloring his bag pink, twice.

Moreover, two of his prison colleagues complained about Plaistow due to him dying his hair and wearing well-pressed shirts.

What did the judgements conclude? 

The colleagues were found to have engaged in a ‘campaign of victimisation’ against Plaistow, with their conduct found to be ‘vexatious, disruptive and unreasonable,’ the Guardian reported.

As a result, clinicians diagnosed him with PTSD, moderate psychological damage, and paranoia. In part due to the ‘lengthy failings’ of the police service.

One doctor who assessed him found his condition to be ‘chronic and permanent.’

Ministry of Justice reply

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘We do not tolerate any kind of discrimination in our prisons and take action to make sure all staff are treated appropriately and fairly.’

The Ministry set up the pride in prison and probation staff network in 2016 to support workplace equality and now has 5,000 members.

They added: ‘We have noted the judge’s decision and are considering next steps, and a separate internal review is ongoing.’

See also

Transgender woman in Illinois is suing to be transferred to a women’s prison

Lesbian, bisexual and queer women suffer lower rates of cancer survival

Bisexual adults are less likely than gay men and lesbians to come out