Calling a man bald is considered sexual harassment, a British employment tribunal ruled on Wednesday.
Three members of the tribunal, which is a judicial body that hears workplace disputes, said that since baldness was more prevalent in men than women, using the word “bald” as an insult therefore related to a “protected characteristic of sex,” according to CNBC.
The tribunal, whose members alluded to their own experiences with hair loss, also compared calling a man bald to commenting on the size of a woman’s breasts.
The ruling was on behalf of a complaint filed by Tony Finn, who worked as an electrician for the British Bung Manufacturing Company.
Finn worked at the company, which manufactures wooden cask closures for the brewing industry, in Yorkshire for nearly 24 years before being fired last year.
Finn alleged that during a workplace argument in July 2019, his shift supervisor, Jamie King, referred to him as a “bald c**t,” according to the Guardian.
The panel noted that Finn had not complained about the use of a four-letter word, but was offended by being called bald.
“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.”
The panel noted that “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 that King intended to threaten and insult Finn and, added, “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 panel said that while the company’s lawyer correctly noted that women can also go bald, it noted, “as all three members of the tribunal will vouchsafe, baldness is much more prevalent in men than women” and “we find it to be inherently related to sex.”
Although Finn did win his claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, being subjected to detriments and sex harassment, he lost an additional claim for age discrimination.