A United Kingdom court employment tribunal has determined that calling a man bald will fall under the purview of sexual harassment in a workplace environment.
This ruling comes in context with a complaint from Tony Finn, 64, who claimed that he had been a victim of sexual harassment when his manufacturing firm colleague said he was a “bald c***”.
The ruling – made by a three member panel, led by Judge Jonathan Brain, who pointed out their own lack of hair – comes in a case between a veteran electrician and his employers.
Finn had worked for the West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company for almost 24 years when he was fired in May last year. Finn alleged that during a shop floor row that almost erupted in violence in July 2019, Mr King had referred to him as a ‘bald c***’.
Hair loss is much more prevalent among men than women so using it to describe someone is a form of discrimination, a judge found. “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,” the judgment notes.
The tribunal said of the bald comment: “It was a violation of the claimant’s dignity, it created an intimidating environment for him, and it related to the claimant’s sex.”
The tribunal accepted that the lawyer appearing on behalf of the company, British Bung Manufacturing Company Limited, was right to submit that women, as well as men, may be bald.
The case was heard at Sheffield in northern England over February and April this year.
Finn is in line for compensation after winning claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and being subjected to sex harassment.
The incident related to Finn’s complaint was with reference to an “altercation” in July 2019 when factory supervisor Jamie King reportedly referred to his lack of hair during an argument.
Finn told the tribunal: “I was working on a machine that I had to cover awaiting specialist repair. The covers were taken off, and it was apparent that Jamie King had done this. When I spoke to him about it, he began to call me a stupid old bald cunt and threatened to ‘deck me.’
“Fearful for my personal safety I retreated to the nearby office of Ady Hudson, supervisor. Jamie continued his tirade of threats and abuse at the office door. This was witnessed by Ady.”
The tribunal concluded that King “did threaten the claimant with physical violence” and “made pejorative remarks about the claimant’s age or appearance”.
With reference to a previous case as precedent, they noted that it was held that a woman had been “sexually discriminated against when a manager made a single comment to her about the size of her breasts”.
“The tribunal therefore determines that by referring to the claimant as a ‘bald cunt’ on 24 July 2019 King’s conduct was unwanted, it was a violation of the claimant’s dignity, it created an intimidating, etc., environment for him, it was done for that purpose, and it related to the claimant’s sex,” the judgment reads.