June 27, 2022
The Tribunal has ruled in the case of Finn v British Bung Manufacturing Company that calling a man bald was a violation of his dignity and therefore amounts to sexual harassment.
After 24 years’ service, the Claimant made several claims to the Employment Tribunal following his dismissal. Part of this was a claim for harassment related to age and sex. It transpired that the Claimant was called a “bold c***” by his supervisor during an argument as well as comments that he would “deck” the Claimant.
The Tribunal found that the conduct was unwanted, violated the Claimant’s dignity, created an intimidating environment, and was done for that purpose. This was despite there being a culture of banter and name-calling in the workplace. The Tribunal further determined that the comment was more than just an insult and amounted to harassment. The harassment was linked to the Claimant’s sex on the basis that baldness is prevalent more in men than women.
The Tribunal is yet to make a decision on the compensation in this case and a new hearing date will be listed to deal with this.
Points to Note
This case provides an important reminder of the effect that the actions and words of employees can have for an employer who can be held vicariously liable. Employers cannot always avoid altercations between employees in the workplace but that does not mean that they cannot protect themselves from liability. An employer will be expected to have taken all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment from happening.
Whilst it is a start to have an equal opportunities policy in place, it is not sufficient to rely on this alone. An employer will be expected to ensure that all employees are aware of the contents of any policies, provide regular and effective training to managers and employees and ensure that any complaints are dealt with in an effective manner.
Claims of harassment on the grounds of sex, typically involve females and this case is a reminder that protection against harassment is far reaching. It is advisable that employers check their equality and diversity policies and training, to ensure they are up-to-date with developments in case law.
Spencers offer training in the workplace on Equality and Diversity for a fixed fee. Please get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Read the full case here: Mr A Finn v The British Bung Manufacturing Company