Every week the New Statesman has a small “This Britain” feature – with little stories which tell us much about where we live.
I nominate the following story reported by the BBC under the headline “Bald teacher loses disabled claim“.
James Campbell, 61, formerly an art teacher at Denny High School in Stirlingshire, took Falkirk Council to an employment tribunal over the issue.
He told the Glasgow tribunal he had suffered from harassment at the hands of pupils because of his baldness. In his ruling, the tribunal judge said baldness was “not an impairment”.
Mr Campbell, from Stirlingshire, who is also claiming constructive and unfair dismissal against the council, said pupils at the school perceived his baldness as a weakness.
He claimed his baldness had a “substantial and long term adverse effect” on his ability to do his job.
Speaking during the hearing, Mr Campbell said: “How can I stand in front of a class with confidence to get on with my job when I am getting teased and bullied about baldness, when I think they are laughing at me all the time.”
The former teacher said he avoided corridors in the school where he would meet pupils to avoid them shouting ”baldy”.
He added: ”I left school later at night after the bell went to avoid the kids.”
Mr Campbell said that if the pupils were prepared to call him baldy to his face, they might also assault him.
Falkirk Council argued that baldness was not a physical or mental impairment and was therefore not covered by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
Tribunal judge Robert Gall said that because Mr Campbell’s baldness was used by others to taunt him, it did not mean it was a disability.
He said: “It seems to me to take the definition of impairment too far if baldness of itself is to be regarded as being an impairment.
“If baldness was to be regarded as an impairment then perhaps a physical feature such as a big nose, big ears or being smaller than average height might of themselves be regarded as an impairment under the DDA.
“That, to me, cannot be right looking to the DDA, the guidance and relevant case law.” “
So, to summarise baldness is not a disability, nor is having a big nose or big ears. I’m glad that’s been judicially settled.