Calling a man ‘bald’ at work is a form of sexual harassment, rules employment tribunal

Michael Douglas discusses discovering a 'bald patch'

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The decision stems from a claim brought by Tony Finn against the West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company in which he claimed he was a victim of sexual harassment due to comments made about his baldness. Mr Finn worked at the company as an electrician for 24 years until he was fired in May 2021.

Speaking to the panel, Mr Finn alleged: “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 bald c*** and threatened to deck me.”

Mr Finn claimed the argument with Mr King, who is 30 years younger, left him “fearful for my personal safety”.

The three person panel were asked to rule on whether calling someone bald was an insult or sexual harassment.

The judgement said: “In our judgement, there is a connection between the word ‘bald’ on the one hand and the protected characteristic of sex on the other.”

The panel heard an argument that women can also be bald but dismissed this, acknowledging that it was a much more common condition among men.

The tribunal said: “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 tribunal said that, as a woman was much more likely to be sexually harassed by having a man comment on the size of her breast, so it was that men would be more likely to be harassed for being bald.

In conclusion, the panel, led by Judge Jonathan Brain, found that the comments had violated Mr Finn’s dignity and were inherently related to his sex.

The panel said: “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 on purpose, and it is related to [Mr Finn’s] sex.”

Speaking after the tribunal, Mr Finn claimed that he didn’t mind being bald, but deplored being insulted because of it.

He said: “I hope my win helps to stop other men being insulted and verbally attacked because they are bald.

“Losing my hair wasn’t something that really bothered me, but the individual who was insulting me really scared me.”

His former employer, British Bung Company was “surprised” by the tribunal’s comments.

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The tribunal heard he then wrote a statement about the incident with his son, a police officer, on official West Yorkshire Police paper.

This led the firm to accuse him of trying to intimidate them. He was fired for misconduct.

As well as upholding his sex harassment claim, the tribunal ruled the company had dismissed him unfairly.

Mr Finn won claims including sexual harassment, unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal.

He lost a claim for age discrimination.

Compensation will be determined at a later date.

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