Seyi Omooba, 26, was removed from a lead role in a musical production of ‘The Color Purple’ after a four-year-old Facebook post came to light which quoted the Bible and gently expressed a Christian view of sexuality.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Miss Omooba challenged Leicester Curve Theatre, which was to hold the production, and Global Artists Agency, which refused to act for her following the controversy, for discrimination and breach of contract.
In February 2021, the employment tribunal ruled in favour of the theatre and agency in a decision which Miss Omooba is now challenging.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre explained, “The tribunal ruled that the theatre and agency had acted for commercial reasons rather than because they intended to discriminate. The judgment ignores the distinction, well-known in discrimination law, between the discriminatory act and the discriminator’s motives. The motives may be entirely benign; but that is no defence.”
This week, the tribunal also, in principle, awarded costs against Miss Omooba in excess of £350,000 to be paid to the theatre and agent.
Andrea Williams said, “An employment tribunal is meant to be a cost-free forum. For the other side to apply for and have granted a £350,000 costs order is unprecedented and deliberately punitive. It is designed to frighten and put off others from seeking justice.
“The costs they are asking for are 15 times more than the usual costs of defending a tribunal case, which is rather difficult to square with their premise that her case was so hopeless that it was unreasonable for her to pursue it.”
These costs will be assessed at a later date. Miss Omooba will also be appealing the decision.