Calling a man ‘bald’ is sex harassment, UK judge rules

By Alma Fabiani

Published May 13, 2022 at 11:33 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Calling a man “bald” is now considered sexual harassment, a panel of three men in Sheffield has ruled. As some of you may have already guessed, each of the three judges overseeing the North Yorkshire tribunal suffered from hair loss themselves and concluded using the word ‘bald’ to describe someone is a form of discrimination. We’re speechless.

The ruling came to pass as a result of a case between a veteran electrician, Tony Finn, and the manufacturing firm where he was employed—the Yorkshire-based British Bung Company. According to The Guardian, Finn had worked for the company for almost 24 years when he was fired in May 2021. He took his employer to the tribunal claiming, among other things, that he had been the victim of sexual harassment after an incident with the factory supervisor, Jamie King, who is nearly 30 years younger than him.

Finn alleged that during a shop floor row in July 2019, King had referred to him as a “bald cunt.” The tribunal heard Finn was less upset by the “Anglo-Saxon” language than the part that touched 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.

“We have little doubt that being referred to in this pejorative manner was unwanted conduct as far as [Finn] was concerned,” the tribunal found. “This is strong language. Although, as we find, industrial language was commonplace on this West Yorkshire factory floor, in our judgment Mr King crossed the line by making remarks personal to the claimant about his appearance.”

One of the judges pointed to the fact that baldness is more prevalent among men than women, making it a form of prejudice against the sex. And according to The Telegraph, the men also moaned about their own baldness during the hearing, comparing it to remarking on the size of a woman’s breasts.

“It is difficult to conclude other than that Mr King uttered those words with the purpose of violating [Finn’s] dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him,” the judgment found. “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 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,” the employment tribunal concluded. Finn’s compensation is yet to be determined.

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