Worker wins sexual harassment claim over 'bald' insult at Mirfield factory

Bald man picture
The tribunal said baldness was 'inherently related to sex'. Credit: PA

An electrician has won a claim for sexual harassment against his former employer after being called "bald" at work.

Tony Finn brought the claim after he was fired by West Yorkshire-based British Bung Company in May last year.

He claimed, among other things, that he had been the victim of sexual harassment after an incident with factory supervisor Jamie King, during which Mr Finn was called a "bald c***".

The tribunal heard Mr Finn was less upset by the "Anglo Saxon" language than the comment on his appearance.

The three-person tribunal, led by Judge Jonathan Brain, was asked to rule whether calling someone bald is an insult or amounted to harassment.

In their ruling, they compared using the term to commenting on a woman's breasts.  

The ruling said: "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 judges accepted that women could be bald.

"However, as all three members of the tribunal will vouchsafe, baldness is much more prevalent in men than women. We find it to be inherently related to sex," the judgement said.

Mr Finn had worked at the British Bung Company for more than 20 years. Credit: Google

Mr Finn had been an employee of the company, based at Hurst Lane in Mirfield, for more than 20 years when he was involved in an argument in 2019 with Mr King, who was 30 years his junior.

He told the panel: "I was working on a machine that I had to cover awaiting specialist repair.

"The covers were taken off, and it was apparent that Jamie King had done this.

"When I spoke to him about it, he began to call me a stupid bald c*** and threatened to deck me."

It left him "fearful for my personal safety".

The comments were made with the view of hurting Mr Finn, the tribunal found.

"Mr King made the remark with a view to hurting the claimant by commenting on his appearance which is often found amongst men," the judgement said.

"The tribunal, therefore, determines that by referring to the claimant as a 'bald c***', 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."

After the incident Mr Finn wrote a statement about it with his son – a police officer – on official West Yorkshire Police paper, and handed it to his bosses.

He said the firm accused him of trying to intimidate them and fired him for misconduct in July 2021.

The panel upheld claims of sexual harassment, unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal but dismissed a claim of age discrimination.

A date to determine the claimant's compensation will be set by the court.