(London) A British worker for Microsoft is suing the computer giant in London, alleging discrimination.

Jamie Durrant, 38, claims in his complaint to the labor tribunal that the company failed to take action despite numerous complaints he was being harassed by fellow workers.

Durrant … claims emails were circulated among employees with headings including “I’m Jim and I’m Gay,” “Me and My Favorite Men” and “Ladies Are Bad.”

One, in which he was described as “Fag Boy Jim,” was posted on the wall in the lunchroom at the Reading operation.

It sounds to me like the average British tech worker is an asshole. Anybody got any insight on that?

source

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    March 24, 2009

    It sounds to me like the average British tech worker is an asshole. Anybody got any insight on that?

    Why would British tech workers be any different that non-British ones or non-tech ones. There are assholes everywhere, and in abundance at that.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    March 24, 2009

    Because I know a lot of techies and none of them are homophobic assholes.

  3. #3 jj
    March 24, 2009

    Why would British tech workers be any different that non-British ones or non-tech ones
    Well at leased from a non-British Techie point of view, the real question is why are British Techies so stupid not to notice that acting like this would come back to bite them in the ass? Shit, if there’s one ‘golden rule’ to technology at the work place (once again from a IT point of view)- Never use company systems for non-work related conversations, they can and are monitored and they are track able and make you liable at work.

    But I’d agree with Greg anyway, I know many techies (as I am one) and do not know any that are homophobic

  4. #4 jj
    March 24, 2009

    Doh! Even a techie can screw up block quotes… Sheesh… Use the preview button!

  5. #5 Kent Sharkey
    March 24, 2009

    The company (at least in the US) is quite good on LGBT rights, so I’m thinking this ex-employee didn’t even try to get resources to help him. And I agree with the others, I think he definitely got stuck with an asshole pack o’ coworkers, neither Brits nor techies are normally this bad (it was probably a sales or marketing division :P).

  6. #6 mpatter
    March 24, 2009

    It sounds to me like this guy’s particular office had a bad culture (pretty shocking, in fact). If it’s true, I doubt it reflects an “average” British IT office.

    I’d be gutted to think you’d fallen into the trap of generalising along national lines. Or demonising Microsoft – they are a big company with an aggressive strangehold on the software market, but that doesn’t make them evil in every way.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    March 25, 2009

    I would never demonize Microsoft.

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    March 25, 2009

    Why would you need to?

  9. #9 Greg laden
    March 25, 2009

    Exactly

  10. #10 Armchair Dissident
    March 25, 2009

    I would wait until the facts come out in the employment tribunal before making any judgments. There have been a number of high-profile cases here were the press have jumped on accusations of discrimination only to find the facts presented to the tribunal bore no relation to the media reports.

    I’ve been in IT in Britain for 18 years, and I’ve never known a openly homophobic techie. This isn’t to say that they don’t exist, or that the claims in the article are necessarily false, but homophobia in the British tech industry – at least in my experience – is exceedingly rare.

  11. #11 Neil de Carteret
    March 25, 2009

    I can’t imagine this happening at any of the tech companies I’ve worked at or for in Britain.

    If it’s true, then I guess he got unlucky, and ended up with a team full of idiots, who maybe couldn’t tell the difference between playful banter and something really hurtful.

    But something about the story bothers me:

    Months later, when he asked why the email was never sent, he was told Microsoft UK would have to create a diversity policy first. Durrant claims that has never happened.

    I find it hard to believe that any moderately-sized tech company in the UK could not have a diversity policy. And this is Microsoft – I’d have thought they’d have a full suite of HR policies mirroring those of the parent company.

  12. #12 Cannonball Jones
    March 25, 2009

    It sounds to me like the average British tech worker is an asshole.

    Way to go on expressing just the same levels of ignorance and stupidity as the idiots in that article. How dare you tar me and my colleagues with the same brush? I’ve worked in a fair few IT companies and have only once encountered anyone with any recognisable level of homophobia and he had already been told that no-one around him shared his views and that everyone found them offensive.

    Microsoft are twats. Homophobes are fuckheads. Don’t go generalising about hundreds of thousands of workers just because you’re angry though.

  13. #13 dg
    March 25, 2009

    “neither Brits nor techies are normally this bad”
    id have to disagree, i think the brits do love picking on others to a much further degree and frequency than ive seen in other countries ive lived. high schoolers are pretty bad; and the machismo factor continues into the workplace.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    March 25, 2009

    Cannonball, that’s why I asked. I was incredulous and wanted feedback from you’all, since I don’t actually have a UK based tech firm down the street to look in on. Thanks for the feedback.

    I blame Microsoft for this whole mess. Steve Ballmer in particular.

  15. #15 Matt
    March 25, 2009

    My experience: I’ve worked for a few tech companies in London, and any sort of homophobic behaviour would have been very, very out of place. Neither management nor general staff have even blinked at same-sex partnerships – they have been treated exactly like M/F couples.

    My, purely anecdotal, experience in the UK is that homophobia decreases with each generation, and also with increased education. The tech industry is generally young, and is stuffed with people with university-level educations. Even the older people in the industry are generally progressive thinkers and so are less likely to judge people on such irrelevancies.

    The only instance I can think of contrary to the general pattern was one born-again Christian who, when asked, said he thought homosexual behaviour was sinful, but that was his view and the rest of us were free to think how we wished. His opinion was viewed with general incredulousness by the rest of us, and even he seemed quite comfortable going to the pub after work with a crowd that included gay and straight people.

    Looking outside the tech industry, but still staying with my personal experience in London, I don’t believe that any of my current social circles would look kindly on any sort of homophobic behaviour. Some of the older folks might think a same-sex couple worthy of comment, as something a bit unusual. The rest of us would just get on with our lives.

    Looking at this particular instance, as reported it seems so contrary to my experience that my first reaction was to assume it has been mis-reported. I simply find it hard to imagine that Microsoft UK would be so different to everywhere else I have worked – whatever I may think of their software, or their business practices. However, it could be that my experience is limited, or that this case is an outlier. Regardless of my initial instinctive reaction, it should be investigated. If true as reported, then these people are, as you in the colonies so delightfully put it, assholes.

  16. #16 Captain Obvious
    March 25, 2009

    As an average British tech worker, I take offense at being painted an “asshole” as part of a discriminatory campaign by Greg Laden. Whats next, claims he can’t tell the difference between us because we all look alike?

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    March 25, 2009

    Captain Obvious: Asking a question in an effort to explain what might be (if verified) very obnoxious behavior is not a discriminatory campaign. What we see in this press report is, if verified, a discriminatory campaign that should be identified and dealt with.

    My own experience with the IT community with whom I interact on a very regular basis leads me to be shocked and amazed at this report. Which is why I ask the question. Do you have anything to contribute other than snark? Such as evidence? More information? A more up to date news report? Or do you only have your judgmental attitude to contribute.