Calling a man bald at work is sexual harassment, UK tribunal rules
London: Calling a man bald at work constitutes sexual harassment, an employment tribunal in England has concluded. A three-member tribunal, led by Judge Jonathan Braine, had to determine whether a reference to someone’s lack of hair was merely an insult or amounted to harassment.
The decision relates to an unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claim brought by Tony Finn against the West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company, where he worked as an electrician for 24 years before being fired in May last year.
“In our judgment, there is a connection between the word ‘bald’ on the one hand and a protected characteristic of sex on the other,” the judgment said.
The Tribunal accepted that the counsel appearing for the company, British Bang Manufacturing Co Ltd, had the right to submit that women, as well as men, could be bald.
“However, as all three members of the tribunal would be protected, baldness is more prevalent among men than women. We find it naturally related to sex,” notes the decision.
The case was heard in Sheffield in northern England in February and April this year.
A future date will be set to determine Finn’s compensation after he upheld his claims of sexual harassment, unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal earlier this week. A related claim of age discrimination was dismissed.
The incident related to Finn’s complaint was in reference to a “quarrel” in July 2019 when factory supervisor Jamie King reportedly mentioned his lack of hair during an argument.
Finn told the Tribunal: “I was working on a machine that I had to cover while waiting for specialist repairs. The covers were removed, and it was clear that Jamie King had done so. When I talked to him about it, he started calling. I got a stupid old bald cunt and threatened to deck me.”
“Fearing for my personal safety, I retreated to the nearby office of the supervisor, Eddie Hudson. Jamie continues his scathing attack of threats and abuse at the office door. It was seen by Eddie.”
The tribunal concluded that King “threatened the claimant with physical violence” and “made derogatory remarks about the age or appearance of the claimant”.
For instance in the context of the previous case, he noted that it was believed that a woman was “sexually discriminated against when a manager made a single remark about the size of her breasts.”
“The tribunal, therefore, determines that the conduct of Mr. Raja by referring to the claimant as ‘bald cunt’ on 24 July 2019 was unwelcome, it was a breach of the dignity of the claimant, it caused an intimidation to him, etc., atmosphere made, it was done for that purpose, and it pertained to the gender of the claimant,” the judgment reads.