The actor who was fired for posting on Facebook attacking homosexuality has been denied her claim of discrimination, contract violation and harassment.
Seyi Omooba, 26, sued Leicester’s Curve Theater and her former employees for £ 128,000 after being suspended from The Color Purple stage.
Seyi’s Facebook Post
She was supposed to play lead actress Celie, sometimes portrayed as in a romantic lesbian relationship.
But she was fired when a Facebook post she posted in 2014 appeared.
This was shared on social media by another actor who was not linked to the show a few days after she was announced as part of the cast in March 2019.
The entry, written when the Christian actress was 20, said: “I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean its right.”
Sacked And Contract Terminated
The online hearing of the Central London Employment Tribunal heard that it had caused a stir on social media and she was fired by Leicester Theater Trust Ltd six days later following discussions in which Ms Omooba stood by for her views.
Three days later her contract with her company Michael Garrett Associates Ltd (Global Artists) was also terminated.
The panel was told she had been “unconditionally” offered her full salary for the role by the theatre but refused to invoice the trust, instead bringing legal action on the grounds she had suffered extensive career damage for espousing her religious beliefs.
In court she demanded £ 4 309 from the stadium and an additional £ 25,000 for emotional injuries and sustained fame and reputational damage.
She also sued her former agency £98,752 for loss of earnings, future losses, injury to feelings and reputational damage.
However, Ms Omooba’s claims of discrimination, harassment and breach of contract were rejected by the tribunal committee.
The panel rejected her proposal that her expulsion from the theater was discriminatory.
In a written judgement, it concluded it was “the effect of the adverse publicity from [the 2014 post’s] retweet, without modification or explanation, on the cohesion of the cast, the audience’s reception, the reputation of the producers and ‘the good standing and commercial success’ of the production, that were the reasons why she was dismissed”.
On the harassment claim, it said: “In the view of the tribunal Mr Stafford [Chris Stafford, chief executive of Leicester Theatre Trust] did not have the purpose of violating the claimant’s dignity or creating an intimidating or humiliating environment for her. His purpose was to save the production.”
Miss Omooba had claimed the character’s sexuality was ambiguous and she would have refused the role if she had considered her gay.
But this was rejected by the panel, the panel said: “She had taken part in a similar production, she had the script, and knowing that a lesbian relationship was at least one interpretation, she should have considered much earlier whether a red line was to be crossed.”
The panel also rejected Ms Omooba’s demands for compensation for loss of earnings, future losses and reputational damage as a result of her agency contract being terminated.
“There is no financial loss because she would not have played the part,” it said.
“There is no loss of opportunity to enhance her reputation by performing, because she would not have played the part.
“If there is damage to her reputation, it was not caused by being dropped from the production but by an unconnected person’s tweeting… of her Facebook post and the outcry resulting from that.”
‘We Are Disappointed’
Ms Omooba’s case was backed by the legal department of Christian Concern, an organization founded by her father, pastor Ade Omooba MBE.
Andrea Williams, the group’s chief executive officer, said: “We are disappointed with the decision and Seyi is considering options.”
Curve Theatre’s management team said it was pleased with the outcome following a “hugely challenging and upsetting time”.
In a statement, it said: “Seyi Omooba accepted a lesbian part in our production of The Color Purple knowing full well she would refuse to play this iconic gay role as homosexual.
“We believe the case was disrespectful in the first place and should never have been brought to court.
“We now look forward to drawing a line under this painful chapter and focusing our energies on how we rebuild our theatre after the pandemic.”