A three-judge panel in the U.K. ruled that calling a man bald is harassment on the basis of gender.
Judge Jonathan Brain of Sheffield Combined Court Centre led the panel in an employment dispute that began in 2019 when supervisor Jamie King called employee Tony Finn a "bald [C-word]" and allegedly threatened to "deck him." The two worked for British Bung Company in West Yorkshire, a family business that specializes in wooden cask closures for the brewing industry.
In May 2021, Finn made a complaint regarding the ordeal because the incident left him "fearful for my personal safety," in his words. His son Robert, an officer with the West Yorkshire Police, helped him write the complaint and used paper from the department. Two days after Finn presented his written statement to officials, Finn was fired. He had been working at the company for 24 years.
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"Mr King made the remark with a view to hurting the claimant by commenting on his appearance which is often found amongst men," the tribunal ruled. "The tribunal therefore determines that by referring to the claimant as a 'bald [C-word]' ... Mr King's conduct was unwanted, it 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."
The all-male panel acknowledged that women can also be bald but ruled it is a condition "inherently related to sex" because it "is much more prevalent in men than women." They cited a previous ruling in which a man was found guilty of sexual harassment for commenting on the size of a woman's breasts as precedent.
In addition to the harassment ruling, the panel also found that Finn was wrongfully dismissed. Supervisors claimed they fired Finn over the statement because they mistook it for a police report. Judges agreed the "statement has all the hallmarks of having been made to West Yorkshire Police in connection with the investigation of an alleged crime" but ruled that Finn should receive compensation.
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Finn's compensation is yet to be determined.