Men using 'mate' not the same as calling female colleagues 'love', tribunal rules

14 September 2021, 07:41

Calling women 'love' is not the same as calling men 'mate'.
Calling women 'love' is not the same as calling men 'mate'. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Calling female colleagues "love" or "honey" is not the same as calling men "mate", a tribunal has ruled.

It comes after a funeral home manager was fired for making a series of inappropriate remarks to a young woman at work, including labelling her "sweet" and "chick".

Mike Hartley was dismissed for gross misconduct after a female colleague complained about the "insulting" comments.

The panel heard that Mr Hartley asked to add her on Facebook "immediately" after first meeting her as well as asking for her "vital statistics" when inquiring over her uniform size.

He claimed his dismissal was sexual discrimination, arguing that he used pet names for men too, such as "mate" and "pal".

However, the Manchester tribunal found that the labels were "demeaning", as the way he addressed men did not undermine or infantilise them in the same way it did women.

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Judge Pauline Feeney said in her ruling: "Calling someone 'mate' or 'lad' is not a 'pet' name in our opinion it is a nickname.

"They are not demeaning... however, chick, babes, bobs, honey, hun and sweetie are all demeaning and infantilising ways of referring to women."

Despite finding that the company was right to fire him, the panel also found that he had been unfairly dismissed due to the fact the investigation into his behaviour had not been carried out properly.

Mr Hartley began working as a driver and bearer for family funeral firm D Hollowell & Sons Limited in 2017. He was later promoted to client liaison and HR manager the following year.

In 2020, he faced a disciplinary hearing, where he said the only people he did not use pet names for were those older than him as "he respects his elders".