Calling women at work ‘love’ or ‘hun’ is demeaning but it’s acceptable to use ‘mate’ for a male coworker, a judge ruled at a tribunal involving a funeral firm manager who was sacked for using improper language towards female staff.
Mike Hartley had argued he was a target of the Me Too movement when he was fired from Blackpool based funeral firm D Hollowell & Sons Limited in January of this year.
A Manchester tribunal heard how he regularly called women ‘sweet’, ‘love’, ‘chick’ and ‘honey’, which he claimed was the same as calling male counterparts ‘mate’ or ‘lad’.
However, the tribunal found it was wrong to compare the two, as the way he addressed men didn’t determine them in the way his names for women did.
Employment Judge Pauline Feeney said that calling someone ‘mate’ or ‘lad’ was not a pet name in their view, it’s a nickname, and that they weren’t demeaning, but that chick, babes, honey, hun and sweetie were all derogatory and infantilising ways of referring to women.
The final straw came when he called a coworker ‘Rachie boobies’ after making a remark about peeking up her skirt, leading her to file a sexual harassment complaint which led to his dismissal.
The hearing heard how Mr Hartley started working as a driver and bearer for D Hollowell & Sons Limited in 2017 where he was promoted to client liaison and HR manager the following year.
In 2019, colleague Rachel Anderton complained about him making insulting and extremely inappropriate remarks.
The panel heard Mr Hartley asked to add her to Facebook immediately after meeting her, asked her what her vital statistics were when enquiring about uniform size and called her pet names such as ‘honey’, ‘babe’ and ‘chick’ multiple times.
During one funeral appointment, Miss Anderton asked the self-described happily married man if he could look under a Moses basket and as he did so, he asked ‘What, am I looking up, your skirt?’ the tribunal was informed, and the panel, which was held remotely, heard that this shocked and upset her.
The panel was told he would walk into the office saying ‘honey, I’m home!’, call her a ‘good girl’ and said that she was ‘curvey in all the right places”.
On another occasion, Mr Hartley had walked into her office and called her ‘Rachie boobies’ which he later explained was a ‘Freudian slip’ as he had meant to call her ‘Rachibobs’, the panel heard.
There are numerous women who men will call ‘darling’, ‘sweetheart’ or ‘love’ and have never complained about it or brought it to their attention that they feel uneasy. Why? Because they’re smart enough to know it’s not meant in an offensive way. However, anything past that, like a man looking up a woman’s skirt is just pervy in every sense of the word.
To be honest, if a man called me ‘darling’, sweetheart’ or ‘love’ it would probably make me smile for the rest of the day. However, if a man said he was looking up my skirt, he’d probably get a punch in the face, there’s a significant difference, and soon men won’t be able to speak to women at all.
Undoubtedly, Mr Hartley was an idiot without a brain cell. Calling someone ‘love’ is okay but talking about their breasts or making comments about looking up their skirt is way out of line, and he only has himself to blame.
It seems everyone gets offended by something these days. Just say that you feel offended and move on unless it happens over and over after they’ve been told.
We seem we live in a ‘me, me, me’ world now where everyone gets offended. Let’s track back to the 60s and 70s were everything was so much better.