09 Jun What Do You think?
On a seemingly regular basis, the terminology used with staff can land an employer to face an employment tribunal and heavy compensation awards.
A recent case extended the terms even further and has produced some discussion around the question, “what next”?
Calling someone at work who lacks hair on his head ‘Bald’ constitutes sexual harassment, an employment tribunal has ruled.
The decision relates to a claim brought by Tony Finn against the West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company, where he worked as an electrician for 24 years before he was fired in May 2021.
He complained that he was a victim of sexual harassment, due to comments made about his lack of hair, including being called a “bald c***” by factory supervisor Jamie King during an argument in 2019.
It was not the obscenity which caused the issue however, it was being called bald.
Describing the argument, Mr Finn told the panel: “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.”
The argument with Mr King, who is 30 years younger than Mr Finn, left the claimant “fearful for my personal safety”.
The three-person tribunal, led by Judge Jonathan Brain, was asked to rule whether calling someone bald is an insult or
amounted to harassment.
“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 judgement said.
“The company’s lawyer] was right to submit that woman, as well as men, maybe 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 tribunal, therefore, determines that by referring to the claimant as a ‘bald c***’”.Mr King’s conduct was a violation of the claimant’s dignity, it created an intimidating environment for him, it was done for that purpose, and it related to the claimant’s sex.”
A date to determine compensation has yet to be set. We will keep you in the loop.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.