Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 13:03 UK

Bald teacher loses disabled claim

James Campbell: Pic by Spindrift
The judge said Mr Campbell's baldness was not a disability

A retired schoolteacher who claimed he was a victim of disability discrimination because he is bald has lost his 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.

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
Tribunal judge Robert Gall

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, who retired in 2007, 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."

'Big nose'

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 it would be to take the definition of impairment too far.

"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.''

Mr Campbell's constructive and unfair dismissal claim against the council will go ahead at a later date.


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