Calling a man “bald” as an insult is sexual harassment, a labor court ruled.
Air loss is much more prevalent among men than women, so using it to describe someone is a form of discrimination, one judge concluded.
Commenting on a man’s baldness in the workplace is tantamount to commenting on a woman’s breast size, they suggested.
The decision – made by a panel of three men who, in making their judgment, lamented their own lack of hair – comes in a case between a veteran electrician and his employers at a manufacturing company.
Tony Finn – who is now in line for compensation – worked for the West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company for nearly 24 years when he was laid off in May last year.
“This is strong language. Although, as we discovered, industrial language was common on this West Yorkshire factory floor, in our opinion, Mr King crossed the line in making personal comments to the complainant about his appearance.”
Finn did not complain about the use of “industrial language” but was “particularly offended” at being called bald, the panel said.
“It is difficult to conclude that Mr King uttered these words for the purpose of violating [Mr Finn’s] dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him”, concluded the sentence.
“By his own admission, Mr King’s intention was to threaten [Mr Finn] and 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 company’s lawyer] was right to say that women, like men, can be bald. However, as all three members of the court will assure you, baldness is far more prevalent in men than in women.
“We think it’s inherently related to sex.”
As part of its ruling, the panel raised an earlier court case in which a man was found to have sexually harassed a woman while commenting on her breast size to refute the company’s argument.
“It is much more likely that a person who receives a comment like the one made in [that] case would be female,” the court said.
“Similarly, a person who receives a remark like the one made by King is much more likely to be male.
“Mr King made the remark with a view to hurting the claimant by commenting on his appearance, which is often found among men.
“The court therefore finds that by referring to the plaintiff as a ‘bald fucker’… Mr. King’s conduct was unwelcome, was a violation of the plaintiff’s dignity, created an intimidating environment for him. , was made for that purpose, and is related to the applicant’s sex.”
Describing the argument with King – who is 30 years his junior – Finn told the court, held in Sheffield, South Yorkshire: “I was working on a machine that I had to cover awaiting specialist repair. The covers were off and it was evident that Jamie King had done it.
“When I talked to him about it, he started calling me an old bald idiot and threatened to ‘deck’ me.”
Finn said he was ‘fearful for my personal safety’.
The court heard that he wrote a statement about the incident with his son Robert, who was a police officer, in the official newspaper of the West Yorkshire Police.
When this was handed over to his bosses at the company – a family business that manufactures traditional wooden keg lids for the brewing industry – they at first believed he had denounced the incident as a crime.
Finn told them that it was not his intention to make the statement look like an official police document. However, the company accused him of trying to intimidate them and fired him for misconduct.
In addition to upholding his sexual harassment claim, the court ruled that the company unfairly fired him because instead of waiting for the police to respond after they complained about their son’s involvement – as they had promised – they fired him two business days later. .
Judge Brain said, “Mr. Steer and Mr. Taylor are not criminal attorneys. They are not police officers. In our opinion, to an educated but untrained eye, the statement has all the hallmarks of having been made to the Police Department. West Yorkshire in connection with the investigation of an alleged crime.
Finn won claims of wrongful termination, wrongful termination, being subjected to prejudice and sexual harassment.
He lost an additional age discrimination suit after the court ruled King didn’t call him “old” but simply “bald p***”.
The compensation of Mr. Finn will be determined later. However, any pay will be reduced after the court rules that he contributed to his dismissal through his conduct.