The Employment Tribunal has ruled that it is now classed as sex-based harassment to call a man bald in the workplace. Tatiana Dall, trainee solicitor in our Employment law team, comments:
Sex-based harassment is unwanted conduct that is related to an individual’s sex or the sex of another person, whereas sexual harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature”.
Sex-based harassment, which is pertinent in this case, will not, therefore, be sexual in nature, but will be behaviour that is linked in some way to an individual’s sex and causes offence to an individual. The Employment Tribunal found that in these circumstances, the reference to being bald was a direct reference to the Claimant’s sex given that baldness is more common in men than women.
The Tribunal decision considered in this article is an interesting interpretation of the elements required to form a sex-based harassment claim – namely unwanted behaviour that either, intentionally or unintentionally, violated someone’s dignity, or created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Time will tell, once the remedies hearing has been concluded, what level of compensation the Tribunal will award for this novel situation. This is also a reminder that men can suffer sex discrimination and/or sex-based harassment even if the majority of cases are brought by women.