Calling a man ‘bald’ is sexual harassment, an employment court ruled after an employee complained of being called ‘bald f***’.
Tony Finn had worked for West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company for almost 24 years when he was made redundant in May last year.
He took them to court claiming, among other things, that he had been sexually harassed following an incident with factory supervisor Jamie King.
Finn alleged that during a fight on the store floor that nearly erupted into violence in July 2019, King referred to him as a “soon asshole.”
Hair loss is much more prevalent among men than women, so using it to describe someone is a form of discrimination, a judge found.
The ruling, made by a three-man panel who, in passing judgment, lamented their own lack of hair, comes in a case between a veteran electrician and employers at his manufacturing company.
He compared calling a man soon to commenting on a woman’s breasts.
The court heard that Mr Finn was less upset by the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ language than by the comment on his appearance.
The accusation resulted in the panel, headed by Judge Jonathan Brain, deliberating on whether commenting on his baldness was simply an insult or harassment.
The panel said: ‘In our view, there is a connection between the word ‘bald’ on the one hand and the protected characteristic of sex on the other.
‘(The company lawyer) was right that both women and men could soon be. However, as the three members of the Court will guarantee, baldness is much more frequent in men than in women.
“We found that it is 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 by commenting on her breast size to refute the company’s point of view.
“A person receiving a comment like the one made in (that) case is much more likely to be a woman,” the court said.
‘So too, a person receiving a comment like Mr. King’s is much more likely to be a man.
Mr. King made the comment in order to hurt the plaintiff by commenting on his appearance, which is often found among men.
“Therefore, the Court finds that by referring to Plaintiff as a ‘bald shit’ … Mr. King’s conduct was unwelcome, was a violation of Plaintiff’s dignity, created an intimidating environment for him, was done with that purpose.” , and related to the sex of the claimant.’
Describing the discussion with Mr King, who is 30 years his junior, Mr Finn told the court, held in Sheffield, South Yorkshire: “I was working on a machine that I had to cover pending specialist repair.” . The covers were removed and it was apparent that Jamie King had done this.
“When I talked to him about it, he started calling me stupid, old and bald, and threatened to ‘take me down’.
Finn said he had been left “in fear for my personal safety”.
The court heard that she later wrote a statement about the incident with her son Robert, who was a police officer, on an official West Yorkshire Police document.
When he handed this over to his bosses at the firm, a family business that makes stoppers from traditional wooden barrels for the brewing industry, they initially believed he had reported 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 firm 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 had wrongfully fired him because instead of waiting to hear from the police after they complained about his son’s involvement, which they claimed they would, they fired him two business days later.
Mr. Finn won lawsuits for wrongful termination, wrongful termination, subjection to prejudice and sexual harassment.
He lost a further age discrimination lawsuit after the court ruled that Mr. King had not called him “old” but simply “soon moron.”
Mr. Finn’s compensation will be determined at a later date. However, any payment will be reduced after the court rules that he contributed to his termination through his conduct.