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MARKETANALYST.US / ECONOMY & WORK

Calling Someone ‘Bald’ at Work Can Be Interpreted as ‘Sexual Harassment’ and Bring Legal Trouble

Mark Jones decided to leave his position claiming discrimination and an unjust dismissal due to his age.
PUBLISHED MAY 20, 2024
Cover Image Source: Calling someone 'bald' at work can land you in trouble (representative image) | Photo by Brett Sayles | Pexels
Cover Image Source: Calling someone 'bald' at work can land you in trouble (representative image) | Photo by Brett Sayles | Pexels

One Mark Jones, a sales director at a mobile phone firm in the U.K. faced discrimination in office due to his appearance and age. Jones began working at Tango Networks in January 2019 at 59. However, when his supervisor stated that he didn't want a team composed of older people, the situation became complicated. Jones brought the dispute before an employment tribunal—the UK equivalent of a court for matters about the workplace. The tribunal decided in Jones' favor, awarding him damages over $86,000.

Image Source: Photo by nappy | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by nappy | Pexels

The business was seeking to bring on a new salesperson back in 2020. Phillip Hesketh, Mark's employer, is reported to have said a few things during the interviews. "Most of the candidates we're seeing are just like me—white middle-aged guys," he remarked. It's unfortunate that there isn't more diversity included in the mix." "I don't want a team full of guys like me—bald, middle-aged, you know," he said in a particularly hurtful remark. I'd like to shake things up."

When Jones left the company, things became complicated. Jones believes that their aim to help him perform better was purely symbolic. According to his manager, Jones was not doing well and required a lot of assistance, but the tribunal could not find any evidence of the fact.

Mark Jones decided to leave his position in March 2021, claiming discrimination and an unjust dismissal due to his age. The tribunal decided that Tango Networks had violated their contract with Mark and treated him unfairly, siding with him. They made the observation that age discrimination appeared to have played a role in Mark's termination. They thought that Mr. Hesketh, Mark's supervisor, thought Mark lacked energy and that younger people had more energy. The choice to fire Mark was influenced by this skewed perspective. As a result, Mark will be compensated with £71,441.36, which is more than $86,000. Tango Networks confirmed that Mr. Hesketh doesn't work there anymore.

Image Source: Photo by fauxels | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by fauxels | Pexels

In a different case last year in the UK, a tribunal ruled that calling someone "bald" at work counts as sexual harassment. Similarly, in the US, a man won $10 million in damages after claiming he was fired because of his gender and race. A UK employment tribunal has ruled that calling a guy "bald" at work might be interpreted as a form of sexual harassment. The panel contended that hair loss is intrinsically gender-related because it affects men more frequently than women. This unusual decision is the result of a 1995 case in which a lady was subjected to sexual discrimination because of remarks made about her appearance.

Anthony Finn, who spent over 24 years working for The British Bung Company, was at issue in this case. Drawing attention to an instance in which King made fun of Finn's age and baldness, Finn accused his boss, Jamie King, of harassing him. Although such language was frequently used in the workplace, the panel deemed King's remarks unacceptable.

Finn was successful in substantiating certain allegations of unjust termination and harassment; yet, the panel observed that his actions had a role in his termination. The panel did not, however, entirely uphold Finn's allegations of age-based abuse. Finn's payout will be determined at a later time. In the UK, the maximum payment for sexual harassment allegations normally ranges from over $50,000 to over $30,000, per Business Insider.

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