A SECURITY guard who says he left his job because of racist and homophobic language at work is urging others to seek advice and keep written records of incidents.

Michael Lockey, 35, who lives in Calne, worked for Cepen Resources, a Chippenham-based company specialising in security services for the public and private businesses, from August 20 to October 23. Mr Lockey was not the target of the language, but says he complained to boss Neil Simon at least three times – and finally left the job when nothing was done.

Mr Simon has denied ignoring his complaints.

Mr Lockey has now contacted employment service ACAS for advice and feels frustrated he did not keep clear records of what happened to support his case, saying: “I wish I had kept a record of every time I went to him about the guy I was working with. I was unable to remain in his employment because of that guy. (The boss) is the person who should have been there for me, and he was not.”

Former employee James Smith, who left the same company three years ago, is a gay man who says he was subjected to continual homophobic abuse by the same employee.

“I tried to put it down to banter for quite some time,” he said. Another colleague told James the language was unacceptable.

“I’m actually autistic and find it hard to distinguish banter,” he said. “It was pretty much most days.”

Mr Smith, 31, from Devizes, said he made a complaint and asked to be moved away from the colleague but the issue was put down to banter and nothing changed. In the end, he handed in his notice.

James said: “I handed in my notice. I was extremely depressed.”

He added: “I felt that there was no point in speaking to him (his manager). Every time he would twist it, like it was my fault.”

He now works as a software engineer and says he has never been subjected to homophobic abuse since.

Mr Simon told the Gazette no mention was ever made of homophobic abuse in either case, and that this was the first he had heard of homophobic abuse claims.

He attributed Mr Lockey’s departure to a personality clash with another employee – and said Mr Lockey had threatened to punch his colleague. He said no mention was made of racist or homophobic language in his resignation letter.

“That’s not the reason he left,” he said. “He mentioned nothing about that.”

Mr Simon said his security workforce tended to be male-orientated and banter was part of the firm’s working environment but that homophobic language would not be acceptable, adding:

“If I had a complaint I would follow it up. I would not tolerate that. I just would not.”

He said Mr Smith had left because he had not fitted in well with other employees.

“He had had enough and to be fair, and nothing against him, I don’t think he fitted in with the rest of the guys.”

A spokesman for the Intercom Trust, an advocacy and advice group for LGBT people, said that when making a complaint to an employer, people should ask that it be logged as a grievance, and say what they would like to see as an outcome. You should keep copies of any correspondence and if making a complaint in a face to face meeting, you should be allowed to have someone with you – to take notes or act as a second set of ears and eyes.

“If they are not getting the response they want from the employer there is also the possibility hate crimes have been committed,” she said. “An employee would also have the option of reporting the incident to a third party reporting centre such as ourselves or Stop Hate UK.”

She added that you do not have to be the target of the abuse to log a complaint – bystanders can also report incidents.

Tom Neil, a senior guidance adviser at ACAS said: "Anybody working in an organisation may, at some point have a problem that they want to raise to management. Most issues can be resolved by simply raising the matter with their manager.

"However if the matter is very serious or isn’t resolved by the manager, you might need to put your complaint in writing and raise a formal grievance. You should check if your employer has a grievance policy and if they do follow it. If they don’t, then write a letter that explains why you are raising a grievance, date it and send it to an appropriate manager or HR person within the organisation. If there are serious concerns about the grievance being recorded, they could send it by recorded delivery.

"An organisation must follow a fair procedure when handling grievances raised by its staff, which should include holding a meeting with you, establishing the facts of the matter and trying to find a way to resolve the issue. It’s in their interests to do their best to resolve problems internally. If they don’t take the matter seriously then it could develop into a more serious issue and might ultimately lead to a tribunal claim against the organisation."

For more information read the Acas guide on discipline and grievances at work at www.acas.org.uk/dgguide.