The Daily Telegraph
Being called ‘love’ is not the same as ‘mate’, tribunal rules
CALLING female work colleagues “love” or “honey” is demeaning and is not the same as calling male co-workers “mate”, a tribunal has ruled.
Mike Hartley, a funeral home manager, was sacked after being accused of making inappropriate remarks to young women at work, including calling female colleagues “sweet”, “love”, “chick” and “honey”. After he lost his job, Mr Hartley tried to argue that he was the victim of sex discrimination because he also gave men pet names such as “mate” or “pal”.
A tribunal in Manchester found it was inappropriate to compare the two, as the way he addressed men did not undermine them in the way his names for women did. “Calling someone ‘mate’ or ‘lad’ is not a ‘pet’ name, in our opinion, it is a nickname,” Pauline Feeney, an employment judge, said. “They are not demeaning ... however, chick, babes, bobs, honey, hun and sweetie are demeaning and infantilising ways of referring to women.”
The hearing was told Mr Hartley was client liaison and HR manager for D Hollowell & Sons, a Blackpool-based family funeral firm. In 2019, his colleague Rachel Anderton complained about his “insulting” and “very inappropriate” comments. The panel heard Mr Hartley asked her what her “vital statistics” were when enquiring about uniform size and called her pet names such as “honey”, “babe” and “chick”.
After Miss Anderton accused him of sexual harassment, Mr Hartley was suspended. During an investigatory meeting, he apologised and said he was only
‘Chick, babes, bobs, honey, and sweetie are demeaning and infantilising ways of referring to women’
trying to be “warm” and “welcoming”.
Interviews with colleagues revealed allegations of inappropriate behaviour, including choosing interview candidates based on whether they were “hot” or “fit”, the panel heard.
After he was sacked he brought claims of sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. The panel found he had been unfairly dismissed as the investigation was not carried out properly. However, it found the company was right to sack him anyway, and refused to award compensation. It rejected his claim he was the victim of sexual discrimination.