A United Kingdom employment tribunal has ruled that calling a man ‘bald’ at the workplace constitutes sexual harassment. The judge ruled that since hair loss is more prevalent among men than women, commenting on a man’s baldness at the workplace is similar to commenting on the size of a woman’s breasts, thus making it sexual harassment.
The ruling was made by a panel of 3 men, who themselves are struggling with their loss of hair. The panel – led by Judge Jonathan Brain – deliberated on whether remarking on someone’s baldness is simply insulting or actually harassment, and eventually decided it is harassment.
The ruling was made in a case between an electrician and the manufacturing firm where he was employed.
Tony Finn, a veteran electrician, who stands to get the compensation post this ruling, had worked for British Bung Company in West Yorkshire for nearly 24 years before he was fired last year in May. After his sacking, he took the company to the tribunal, alleging that he was sexually harassed at the workplace by his supervisor Jamie King.
Finn alleged that during a row on the shopfloor, King referred to him as a “bald c*nt*. As per reports, Finn wasn’t that upset about the use of the expletive “c*nt”, a common term used in the UK, but was more upset about the use of bald to describe his appearance.
Announcing the judgment, the tribunal noted, “It is difficult to conclude other than that Mr. King uttered those words with the purpose of violating the dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for Mr. Finn. Of his own admission, Mr. King’s intention was to threaten [Finn] and to insult him. In our judgment, there is a connection between the word ‘bald’ on the one hand and the protected characteristic of sex on the other.”
The 3 bald men also noted that they can vouch that baldness is more common among men than women, therefore reference to it constitutes sexual harassment.
As part of its ruling, the panel raised a previous case where a man was found to have sexually harassed a woman by remarking on the size of her breasts. The tribunal noted that the person at the receiving end of a remark about the size of breasts is likely to be a female, just like the person on the receiving end of a remark about baldness is likely to be a male.
The compensation amount for Mr. Finn will be decided at a later date.