Calling a man bald counts as sexual harassment, UK judge rules

A UK employment tribunal argued that the use of the word “bald” as an insult related to a “protected characteristic of sex.”

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Calling a man bald can now be classified as sexual harassment, a UK employment court judge has ruled.

Three members of the tribunal who decided on the ruling, and alluded to their own experience of hair loss, said that baldness was more prevalent in men than women. Therefore, they argued that the use of the word “bald” as an insult related to a “protected characteristic of sex.”

The court compared calling a bald man to comment on the size of a woman’s breasts, based on a 1995 case.

The ruling, published Wednesday, was made on a case where the insult was alleged to have been used against Tony Finn, while he worked as an electrician for the British Bung Manufacturing Company.

Finn had worked at the company, which manufactures wooden cask closures for the brewing industry, in Yorkshire in the northeast of England, for nearly 24 years. He was fired last year and the circumstances around his dismissal of him were also part of the case.

Finn claimed that he was called a “bald c—” and was also threatened by his shift supervisor, Jamie King, in a dispute in July 2019.

The court determined that using this insult was a “violation against the claimant’s [Finn] dignity, it created an intimidating … environment for him, it was done for that purpose, and it related to the claimant’s sex.”

The tribunal members also suggested that it was not the use of profanities that was the issue, with Finn also having been found to use such language in the workplace: “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.”

Finn is set to receive compensation on the court’s ruling, although the amount had not yet been determined.

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