• 9 November 2015

At The End Of The Day

by Macks Solicitors

Today’s world is undeniably materialistic. It has become more and more obsessed with self-image and self-interest. The previously unthinkable is now readily available at the touch of a button or the flick of a switch. And yet our society is increasingly politically correct, it is fast becoming more and more secular, and there is a real momentum towards achieving full and fair equality.

And so it is with great caution that this article is written.

Now let’s play a quick guessing game. When you read “equality” above, the first thing that may have come to mind is the battle of the sexes, the unjust differences between men and women, the glass ceilings, the pay difference, the unfairness in everyday portrayal and in employment and social class. All of which are clearly issues that need to be, and at times perhaps are being, addressed.

And yet equality is about so much more than men versus women and Mars versus Venus. It is about religion and sexuality and race and age and disability and gender.

Picture the scene.

It’s early Saturday morning. You roll out of bed and get ready for that dreaded weekend shift at work. It’s one of those days when all you want to do is curl up on the sofa – a tub of Ben and Jerry’s would be an added bonus – and find a TV series to binge-watch.

You arrive at work and it starts straight away, the abuse. Your colleagues, your boss, they all have a go. The comments, the insults, the derogatory behaviour: discrimination in the workplace.

You step out into the fresh air shortly before 3pm and the whole scene escalates. A crowd of thousands throw abuse at you as you make your way. You shake hands with a few, others choose to ignore you. You suffer in silence.

There is heightened tension compared to a usual match day. It’s about to kick off.

Does this scene seem unlikely?

The sporting headlines were recently dominated by two fully grown men, as yet unnamed, who kick a ball around a field for untold amounts of money and their, as yet, untold story. Two Premier League footballers who are not interested in the continuing battle of the WAGs. It does seem hard to believe.

The headline in a somehow-popular tabloid read: “England player and another Premier League star set to come out as gay.” Can you believe that this is considered headline-grabbing, ball-gripping, Earth-shattering news? It is 2015.

Two men, only rumoured to be gay, who, with the support of their families, their respective football clubs and the Football Association (FA), feel that today’s society may finally be able to accept their sexuality in their chosen career. And all in the world’s biggest sporting arena, the Premier League.

It is all the more incredulous that the article emphasises how much help these two footballing stars are going to need if and when they make their announcements before transitioning into the open market. Don’t get me wrong, it would be history in the making. There has never been an openly gay footballer in the top-flight of the beautiful game in England. But the simple reality is it just doesn’t really matter.

It is a sad truth that abuse is an inevitable part of the modern game, and it is highly unlikely that these two men would come out to play without taking some stick from the stands. We see this often enough as the attempts to “kick racism out of football” continue to be endorsed and promoted worldwide.

The insults thrown at a Sunderland player recently, themed around his ongoing court proceedings, prompted him to run the length of the pitch to celebrate after scoring against Newcastle. And every single week, footballing hooligan abuse is pointedly directed at some poor man, usually a middle-aged bloke with nothing but a black outfit and a whistle. And all because he is running around a pitch with bad eyesight.

But the support in today’s society will be overwhelming, won’t it? Progressive backing will surely outweigh any negative comments of those few who find they are rooted in the homophobia of bygone decades, right? Of course, let’s remember that gay marriage is a thing now, after all.

I think the best thing these men could do is make their announcement by sticking one in the onion bag and celebrating by skipping to the corner flag hand-in-hand with their nearest team-mate. Today’s stereotypes are there to be broken, to be eradicated and to be laughed at when appropriate.

At the end of the day, what’s going to change? These players will still be paid handsomely, they will still drive a Range Rover and they will still roll around on the floor when they feel the slightest touch of an outstretched boot in the penalty area. If anything, the announcement will no doubt secure offers to participate in a high-paying advertisement, just to add to the pampered lifestyle. And they will still start their post-match interviews by saying, “Yeah, well, at the end of the day…”

However, discrimination in the workplace remains a real problem in everyday life. And it is essential that you act quickly in seeking legal advice, as you have a maximum of three months to make a claim, starting from the most recent act of discrimination.

Take our footballers as an example. At the time of writing this (early November), the players would have until about the end of January to make a claim if their respective clubs are discriminatory towards them following their announcements. To put things in perspective, that would perhaps be, appropriately enough, towards the end of the transfer window.

At times, society seems overly expectant. It is too open and assumes it has a right to know everyone’s business. Just let these footballers get on with it.

And don’t even get me started on whether Idris Elba could be the next James Bond.

Or whether “the name’s Bond, Jane Bond” is in the offing.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination, contact our solicitors for expert advice. No one should have to suffer discrimination in the workplace. At Macks, we will work with you to ensure that your rights are respected.

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