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Calling a man ‘bald’ is sexual harassment employment tribunal rules

Calling a man ‘bald’ is sex harassment, an employment tribunal has ruled after an employee complained about being called a ‘bald c***’.

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Tony Finn had worked for the West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company for almost 24 years when he was fired in May last year.

The judge said that hair loss is much more prevalent among men than women so using it to describe someone is a form of discrimination.

The ruling, made by a panel of three men who in making their judgement bemoaned their own lack of hair, comes in a case between a veteran electrician and his manufacturing firm employers.

It compared calling a man bald to commenting on a woman’s breasts.  

The tribunal heard that Mr Finn was less upset by the ‘Anglo Saxon’ language than the comment on his appearance.

The allegation resulted in the panel – led by Judge Jonathan Brain – deliberating on whether remarking on his baldness was simply insulting or actually harassment.

The panel said: ‘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 company’s lawyer) was right to submit that women as well as men may be bald. However, as all three members of the Tribunal will vouchsafe, baldness is much more prevalent in men than women.

‘We find it to be inherently related to sex.’

As part of its ruling, the panel raised a previous tribunal case where a man was found to have sexually harassed a woman by remarking on the size of her breasts to rebut the firm’s point.

‘It is much more likely that a person on the receiving end of a comment such as that which was made in (that) case would be female,’ the tribunal said.

‘So too, it is much more likely that a person on the receiving end of a remark such as that made by Mr King would be male.

‘Mr King made the remark with a view to hurting the claimant by commenting on his appearance which is often found amongst men.

‘The Tribunal therefore determines that by referring to the claimant as a ‘bald c***’…Mr King’s conduct was unwanted, it was a violation of the claimant’s dignity, it created an intimidating environment for him, it was done for that purpose, and it related to the claimant’s sex.’

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