An evangelical Christian who claimed discrimination because he wasn’t allowed to display signs describing a politician as a “gay pervert” has lost his case.
Mark J Savage, a carpenter from Swords, Ireland, said he was discriminated against, harassed and victimised by the supermarket chain SuperValu after staff repeatedly removed offensive notices he posted on a community noticeboard in February 2020.
The notices falsely claimed that a prominent national politician facilitated “the sexual exploitation of innocent children by gay perverts,” according to The Irish Times.
SuperValu refused to allow Savage to use the supermarket as a platform for posting discriminatory, offensive, inflammatory and defamatory material, and barred him from its Swords outlet.
Savage went on to submit a complaint to The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), claiming he was “upset and humiliated” when staff took the signs down as he was acting with reasonable excuse and lawful authority at all times and exercising his religious beliefs.
But it wasn’t the first time SuperValu had had to take action against the man, the WRC heard.
Back in 2019 Savage tried to post notices accusing election candidates of being sex offenders. When these were taken down he upset staff by shouting and taking photos of them, telling them they would lose their jobs. He also sent emails threatening to protest outside the store and name staff as child sex offenders.
Later in August 2020 Savage posted another notice on the board which made similar allegations against two named employees. This is now a police matter, the store said.
They told the WRC that it appeared as though Savage was “inviting” SuperValu to remove the latest notices in order to issue fresh discrimination proceedings against the company.
Discrimination claim was ‘entirely frivolous and vexatious,’ ruling states
In its ruling, the WRC said the notice about the politician was “a homophobic slur” and untrue. The commission dismissed Savage’s case on the basis that it was “an entirely frivolous and vexatious complaint”
WRC adjudicator Pat Brady said the complainant knew the consequences of posting the notices because of previous incidents, and said defamatory, obscene, abusive and discriminatory material cannot be considered a protected expression of religious belief.
It ruled the actions of SuperValu were entirely justified for dealing with “a studied, premeditated act of provocation”.
The Irish Times reports Savage has made several other unsuccessful religious discrimination claims, including against Google and former health minister James Reilly.