In a landmark decision, an employment tribunal last week ruled that calling a man bald is sexual harassment, once again affirming the need for a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and formal training for line managers.
Electrician, Tony Finn, brought the case against his employer, British Bung Company, claiming he had been labelled a “bald c***” by factory supervisor Jamie King during an argument in 2019.
Mr Finn claimed that the comment was sexual harassment because his being bald was directly tied to being a man as men are more likely to experience baldness than women.
Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, says employees and employers should always be mindful that any comments, jokes, or actions displayed at work that humiliate or offend someone will likely be classed as bullying. He explains:
“Never forget that anything you say in the workplace that has the effect of humiliating, degrading, or offending someone will probably be classed as bullying or harassment.
“This judgement should serve as a reminder of the impact that nasty remarks about a person’s physical appearance can have.
“The tribunal considered whether the remark was sexual harassment or just an insult.
“Eventually, the tribunal ruled upheld Mr Finn’s claim that, because he is a man, he was much more likely to be on the receiving end of such a comment and that the words were made with the intent of hurting him.
“On top of this, the remark was an unwanted violation of Mr Finn’s dignity and created an intimidating environment for him.
“Cases like this also reinforce the need for employers to have clear standards of behaviour to protect themselves against tribunal claims.
“Clear policies and a zero-tolerance stance on workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination and protect your organisations.
“Every workplace needs to effectively communicate these policies and standards to the workforce through regular staff training and a culture of professionalism and mutual respect.”