A UK employment tribunal judge ruled that calling a man bald is sexual harassment. Three members of the tribunal had hinted at their personal hair loss experience, adding that this issue affects more men than women. As a result, they argued that the term “bald” used as an insult is can be considered a “protected characteristic of sex”. Similarly, the tribunal said calling a man bald is comparable to making comments about the size of a woman’s breasts, based on a case from 1995.
Using “Bald” as an Insult is Sexual Harassment, According to Tribunal
This ruling concluded a case for Tony Finn when he lost his job as an electrician for the British Bung Manufacturing Company. Finn had worked at the wooden cask closures company for almost 24 years. However, the company fired Finn last year and he came forward with claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal and harassment. Finn claimed his shift supervisor, Jamie King, called him a “old bald c—” and threatened him during an argument in July 2019.
“It is difficult to conclude other than that Mr. King uttered those words with the purpose of violating (Finn’s) dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for him,” the judgment found. “Of his own admission, Mr. King’s intention was to threaten (Finn) and to insult him. 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 members of the tribunal reported that the use of profanity was not the primary issue since Finn and the workplace were accustomed to such language. Rather, Finn took offense at the remark about his looks. The tribunal stated, “Although, as we find, industrial language was commonplace on this West Yorkshire factory floor, in our judgment Mr. King crossed the line by making remarks personal to the claimant about his appearance.” 
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But Women Also Experience Baldness…
The lawyer for the respondents argued that women can also be bald; therefore, baldness shouldn’t be inherently related to sex. But the tribunal said that baldness affects more men than women. They added it is comparable to women’s breasts. They stated men can also have large breasts but since more women have them, the reverse can be said about men’s baldness.
The tribunal concluded that “Mr. King’s conduct was unwanted,” his insult was a “violation against the claimant’s [Finn] dignity, it created an intimidating … environment for him, it was done for that purpose, and it related to the claimant’s sex.”
The ruling found that Finn is entitled to compensation from his ex-workplace and the amount will be decided at a later time.  He won claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal and being subjected to sexual harassment. But he lost his additional claim for age discrimination. 
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What is the Difference Between Male and Female Baldness?
In the majority of cases, baldness is a hereditary condition called androgenetic alopecia or male/female pattern baldness. According to the American Hair Loss Association, 95% of male hair loss is caused by this condition. By 50 years of age, about 85% of men are balding. It often begins with a receding hairline for men. But for women, it takes the form of thinning hair throughout the scalp. For that reason, female pattern baldness is not as noticeable at first. But in fact, about over 50% of women experience noticeable hair loss. 
“Virtually no woman goes through life with a full head of hair, just as no man goes through life with a full head of hair,” said Professor Rod Sinclair, the University of Melbourne’s Professor of Dermatology. “Men have more severe and more extensive balding, but women also lose hair in very high numbers. They go diffusely thin. The pattern is different. They’re not completely bald like men are, they just go thin.” 
Professor Sinclair explained that many women spend a lot of time using hair products and styles to disguise their thinning and baldness. “The principle of that is that they’re essentially getting an elaborate comb-over to disguise their hair loss. They’re getting it washed, blow-dried, volumized, set into position to camouflage their hair loss. They don’t touch it for the next seven days, then they come in and have the whole process repeated… It’s not that women aren’t going bald, there’s a conspiracy of silence.”
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- “Calling a man bald counts as sexual harassment, UK judge rules.” CNBC. Vicky McKeever. May 13, 2022.
- “Calling a man ‘bald’ is sexual harassment according to U.K. tribunal.” Global News. Kathryn Mannie. May 13, 2022
- “UK Tribunal Rules Calling A Man Bald Is Sexual Harassment.” HuffPost. David Moye. May 13, 2022
- “What Is Balding, and How Can You Treat It?” Healthline. Kirsten Nunez. December 12, 2019
- “Are There More Bald Men Than Women?” The University of Melbourne. Peter Hanlon. August 26, 2016