A bald man
Unsplash | Gustavo Sánchez

Employment Tribunal Rules Calling A Man 'Bald' Is Sex Harassment

Dan
Dan
May 12, 2022

An employee tribunal in the United Kingdom has ruled that drawing attention to a man's baldness constitutes sexual harassment, on par with drawing attention to a woman's breasts.

The ruling was handed down after a worker who was called a "bald [expletive]" on the job brought a claim of wrongful dismissal and sexual harassment against their former employer.

Male pattern baldness is extremely common.

Man holding his bald head
Unsplash | Ahmed Carter

Around half of all men will experience male pattern baldness by the age of 50. Thinning or receding hair is a common sight in men, especially after the age of 30.

It's often joked about, but the employee tribunal's ruling may change that.

Drawing attention to a man's baldness is sex harassment, according to the tribunal.

A gavel
Unsplash | Wesley Tingey

As the Daily Mail reported, the ruling stems from an incident involving a Tony Finn, who was fired from his West Yorkshire workplace last May after nearly 24 years on the job.

He was called a "bald [expletive]."

A factory floor
Unsplash | Jake Nebov

It's worth noting that the expletive used in this case is a more affectionate term in the U.K. than it is in North America.

In any event, Finn says that the argument nearly turned violent after his supervisor called out his baldness.

What makes it sex harassment?

A bald man
Unsplash | Gustavo Sánchez

Crucially, because baldness is far more prevalent in men than it is in women, calling out someone's baldness is a form of gender-based harassment.

"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 tribunal ruled.

"It created an intimidating environment ... it related to the claimant's sex."

Man signing papers
Unsplash | Scott Graham

Finn filed his report after the argument with a supervisor left him "fearful for my personal safety."

After he filed the report, he was fired by the company for misconduct.

It's a big win for the claimant.

A court building
Unsplash | Claire Anderson

While the ruling that commenting on baldness constitutes sexual harassment is significant, it wasn't Finn's only win. He also won claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, and being subjected to detriments.

It's unknown how much he'll be compensated.

Stacks of money
Unsplash | Mufid Majnun

The payout is beside the point, really. The big news here is that employees — in the U.K., at least — will need to be careful if they want to call out someone's baldness.

How do you feel about this?

A bald man
Unsplash | Zoran Borojevic

On one hand, workplace harassment isn't okay. On the other, many of us have likely made similar jokes in the past. Do you think making fun of someone's baldness constitutes sexual harassment? Let us know in the comments.

h/t: Daily Mail