Calling a man "bald" is now considered sexual harassment, rules a judge in England

This bit of news reminded me of Jim Jefferies’ take on baldness when he was on Fallon recently…

That is something completely different.


“Hey, hairless!


Much better than, “Mr. Clean, is that you?” :wink:

Staring George Costanza GIF


Cue-ball, chrome dome…


Keep Clam
Carry On


They could, perhaps, have chosen age as the appropriate protected characteristic since it is often the case that bald people are also older people (yes, I know young people can be bald too).
In either case harassment (when someone makes you feel humiliated, offended or degraded) is taking place here.


While the absurdity of this case is obvious, I think an underlying issue should not be dismissed to easily.

Society is slowly changing to take away th eburdon of expectations and pressure on women to adhere to sexualized beauty standards.

But at least for fairness reasons, now and then we should think about men as well. We can’t demand “body positivity” and “all bodies are beautiful” just for one part of the population.

A guy with a BMI above normal has the same right not to be fat shamed as a woman.

If we abandon stereotypes, this should go for everyone.


I don’t disagree with you, but it’s important to frame that carefully.

The key is not “fairness”. The key is distinguishing between punching up and punching down. The power dynamic of the situation must always be considered when determining if a particular act is discriminatory, bullying, or otherwise. This is the part that, for example, conservative pundits always willfully disregard.

Without the “punching up or down” check, all such conversations are meaningless.


It’s been a while, so here’s a reminder deep in the thread that he wasn’t merely called ‘bald’, he was called a ‘bald worst-slur-you-could-call-a-woman’, and yet there’s no court case about that part. It’s still perfectly fine to sexually harass someone by using a female sex insult. But bald, well, that’s a step too far.

Meanwhile, if someone insults a woman for being bald, how dare her husband take that as an insult and (inappropriately) try to defend her honor?

Sexual inequality under the law continues to be enshrined rather than condemned.


Just to be clear, in law, it is not. It’s just that in this case, that wasn’t part of the complaint.

For Mr Finn apparently, yes.

The reason this case doesn’t revolve around the c- word is that the tribunal held that he wasn’t bothered by that part.

Probably because they were all slinging it around at each other.

So, in that sense, yes, these people, i.e. claimant and his colleagues, think it’s ok to use that insult.

It’s one of those beautiful cases where everyone involved is deeply, deeply unpleasant.

To make clear how unpleasant the tribunal found everyone to be, they reduced the claimant’s wrongful dismissal compensation by 50% and his unfair dismissal damages by 75% to reflect the claimant’s conduct before his employment came to an end.

For non-UK people, wrongful dismissal is the claim for not getting the right amount of notice; unfair dismissal is compensation for ending someone’s employment in circumstances where the employer wasn’t entitled to do that.


I appreciate your greater understanding of this issue and your clarifications.


Meanwhile, even with @Loki 's clarifications, I still don’t understand how calling someone bald can be considered sexual harassment. Even though I felt I understood the whole balding issue better and its importance to people afflicted with it when Augusten Burroughs wrote something like ‘imagine that one day your breasts started shrinking into nubs and then just dropped off’.


I’m with you. And, IANAL, but it seems the only way to make an equitable judgment on something like this is to clearly state that, you know what, how about we just don’t comment on coworkers’ physical appearances, unless needed to identify them in a crisis?
I’m almost certain every woman and several men on this thread would find that amenable.


That would be fabulous!

Oh, that wasn’t the correct response? Sorry, not a guy. They’ve done their job, so now they’re just in the way.


See the Jim Jefferies post I made earlier. He was making much the same comment about fat shaming and baldness. I still have my hair, but that’s pure dumb luck, and for those that don’t - they can do even less about it than people with high BMIs, really. I mean he said one nickname for bald men in the UK is “slaphead” !? I mean, wow…it’d be a lot better if people did a lot more to focus less on appearances, all around.

I’m not from the UK, but is the c-word interpreted in the same way that it is in the US? I mean, in the US, it’s just not something I hear said at ALL any more unless I’m watching something from the UK. Or unless a woman completely LOSES it with another woman, I occasionally hear it let loose. I mean, I’m talking even all-male situations, I don’t hear it said. But my impression is that it’s not quite the same word in the UK…

Sex is one of nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act.
Harassment (when someone makes you feel humiliated, offended or degraded) based on one of these characteristics, in this case sex was chosen as the most appropriate characteristic, it is only defined as gender (not just unwanted sexual advances, for example) so it covers any humiliating/offensive/degrading comments based on gender.

The short answer is, it can’t.

I’ll note that The Guardian articles at least are correctly referring to it as “sex-related harassment”. The headlines and summaries shown on search engines still say sexual harassment though.

As @timd says the Equality Act provides for protection form harassment related to certain “protected characteristics”. Gender is one of those.

So it’s (possibly) harassment related to sex, i.e. gender.

Sexual harassment is defined differently as unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which would cover things like “grabbing them by the pussy” to take an entirely random example.

Taking other 100% not at all real life examples™, treating a female colleague badly, locking her in a site shipping container, etc. because you are a sad man who doesn’t think women belong on a building site is harrassment related to sex, not sexual harassment.

Taking your dick out and waving it at colleagues (male or female) saying “who wants a lolly?” is sexual harassment.

I can’t speak for everyone here in the UK but I don’t think so.

I mean it’s definitely a swear word. But it seems to me the UK is generally a more sweary place than the US.

It depends on context. There are certainly situations where say a bloke might call his mate a c-word in a friendly fashion.

But then again, as in this case when someone really wants to swear at someone, the c-word tends to be the x-rated, offensive word chosen.

So, sort of, I guess? In a two nations separated by a common language way?