back to article Red hair bullying cases could end up in court

Gingerism in the workplace could form the basis of formal grievances or constructive dismissal cases, an employment lawyer has warned. The news comes in the wake of one Newcastle family having to move house because of abuse about its members' red hair. The Chapman family has moved home three times in three years in the …


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  1. A J Stiles

    A Unified Discrimination Act

    It really is time we had a Unified Discrimination Act, which would outlaw ALL forms of discrimination. Not just on grounds of sex, race, religion, disability, political standing, sexual orientation or age; but also on grounds such as body shape, hair colour, eye colour, body adornment, attire &c.

  2. Ned Fowden

    are we going mad?

    i'm sorry but political correctness is now heading towards hair colour ? ? ?

    OMG, what is happening to our world.

    hey, i'm all in favour of stamping out harrasment & bullying, but come on, going to court over hair colour

    by the gods of everything that is sensible, this is too much

  3. daniel

    Not only British...

    It's easily found in the rest of Europe too....



  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gingers of the world unite

    As a ginge, I was teased mercilessly at school, called duracell, ginger minger, rusty, ginger whinger etc. I think the reason redheads get such a bad reputation for fiery tempers is because they learn to stand up for themselves at a very early age. Despite being 5'1 and 7 stone, I can now kick like a mule and punch like Naseem - always a plus if those media cocktail parties get out of hand. Discrimination? No longer a problem for me...

  5. JP

    What about Blondes?

    Does this mean that comments like "I was having a blonde moment" is going to be flagged up as inappropriate in the future?

    Brunettes are going to be irate, and suing simply because there's nothing they can sue over, but they have to be careful all the time!

  6. David Ritchie

    Ginger and proud

    But I have always thought it odd that while descrimination by skin colour is racist, discrimination by hair colour is not. Ginger hair defines a persons race as much as coloured skin does.

    Would that girl have been chucked out of Big Brother for calling someone a Ginger? I think not.

  7. Robert Grant Silver badge

    It is an actual problem

    People are picked on a lot because of being ginger, and it is a bit odd. Basically in these cases (racism, sexism, whatever) lots of people consider a rectification of this problem to be pointless, and it's only gradually that people's attitudes change and they realise that it isn't fair to discriminate.

    I do however understand the shouts of "political correctness gone mad" - attempting to legislate against the crap that pretty much all of us do naturally is a pretty neutered, legalistic way of doing things. Ideally we just wouldn't do it, and it's rare that people change their minds, even if the law compels them to change their ways.

  8. voshkin

    Not particularly British trait

    >>The practice of picking on people with red hair is thought to be a particularly British trait.

    This is not true. In Russia “ginger” people have it very tough. It is “widely” believed (and generally correctly) that ginger haired females are promiscuous, for example.

    What surprised me, is that whilst there are very few ginger haired people in Russia (most of them are in poor, uneducated families) there are far far more of them in the UK, in all social groups, and I would have thought that the attitude towards them would be lax, considering that there are so many of them.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: A Unified Discrimination Act

    The only problem with that, is it will be seized upon by sleeze-bag solicitors in cases where someone who has 507 piercings on their face goes for a job that involves knocking on old ladies doors - They clearly aren't going to be suitable for that job, yes, they may be capable, but not suitable and then the poor company hiring would end up wasting many £1000s on legal fees.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for not discriminating, but a law like you propose would be used for all the wrong reasons in 99% of cases and cost small businesses a lot of money - or more than likely, put them out of business. It's hard enough complying with all the red tape as it is.

  10. Joshua

    Cartman says:

    We've all seen them, on the playground, at the store, walking in the streets. They creep us out, and make us feel sick to our stomachs. I am talking of course about ginger kids.

    Aw, sick! Gross! Ginger kids are born with a disease which causes very light skin, red hair, and freckles.

    Aw, nasty! Yuck! This disease is called Ginger-vitis and it occurs because ginger kids have no souls.

    Because their skin is so light, ginger kids must avoid the sun, not unlike... (changes slides) vampires.

    There are some Gingers without light skin or freckles. They are called 'Daywalkers.' (switches to a slide of Kyle)

    One night, when you're all sleeping in your rooms…the gingers are gonna getcha! They're gonna getcha!

    Kyle: It's not a presentation, it's a hate speech! People aren't creeped out by gingers!

    Clyde: (looks around) I am.

    ..pulled from

  11. Ted Treen

    The ultimate non-discrimination

    To A J Stiles

    We're getting there:- In Parliament and local authorities , in addition to banning discriminating on the grounds of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and age can now be added the criteria of competence and honesty.

  12. Rupert Stubbs

    Kurt Vonnegut would appreciate this...

    Read 'Harrison Bergeron' for where stuff like this will end up...

    Using legislation to enforce 'fairness' is a crude and ultimately useless tool. Life is not fair. If someone wants to be unfair to someone else, they will always find a way (how do you legislate against tone of voice, facial expression, lack of warmth of smile?).

    The best defence agaisnt bullying (as noted above) is either a quick wit or a quicker right hook...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a sad day...

    ...when you're not allowed to heap abuse on people for looking like Mick Hucknall or Chris Evans :-(

  14. Gavin

    I'm a ginger too

    Yey I'm a ginger, see you all in court you brown haired blond haired tossers.

    No on a serious note, it depends how bad the harrassment is then i'm sure its covered by law anyway. I can take a ginger joke as well as the next guy, but i supose in todays age theres houldn;t be harrasment, noone gets the piss taken out of them for having brown or blond hair. No gingers get the piss taken because it less common or different and the stupid majority don;t like different.

    I think if people would grow up there wouldn't be any need for harrassment laws like this.

    Ginger FTW, say yes to a ginger britain.

  15. Eman Tsal

    Just move up north...

    ...just over the border for the Geordies.

    There's so many gingers up here that no one bothers.

    And the ginger burds - fwoarr :-)

  16. Michael Sheils

    I'm a Ginga

    And yes I, like every other Ginger person I've ever met did get bullied at school but we came out of it stronger. It's natural for the lesser hair colours to fear the genetically superior.

  17. Martin Benson Silver badge

    Can't let "voshkin" go unchallenged....

    Quoting from voshkin above....

    "In Russia “ginger” people have it very tough. It is “widely” believed (and generally correctly) that ginger haired females are promiscuous, for example."

    What!!!??? Are you really making that statement? Do you really mean what you just put there - it's generally correct to assume that if you see a ginger-haired female, she's promiscuous??? What utter garbage. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    Come on. It's widely assumed that Russians are either drunks or mafia crooks, but it's hardly reasonable to state that it's generally correct, is it?

  18. A J Stiles


    "In cases where someone who has 507 piercings on their face goes for a job that involves knocking on old ladies doors - They clearly aren't going to be suitable for that job, yes, they may be capable, but not suitable" -- Anonymous Coward

    Why not? Are you suggesting that old ladies might think less of a person because of their facial piercings? Then surely, the old ladies are just as guilty of discrimination as if they had refused to answer the door to a black person.

    To Ted Treen: Competence *is* one of the few legitimate grounds for discrimination. There are also times when it *might* be appropriate to discriminate on sex or race (acting rôles), religious belief (the priesthood), disability (drivers need eyesight, piano tuners need hearing), political standing (party workers), and so on. But these are exceptions, and all have in common that a normally-protected attribute has some direct bearing on a person's suitability to do the job.

  19. Colin Jackson


    It's cries of political correctness gone mad gone mad!

    Personally, I'm fed up with being discriminated at work on the grounds of my levels of motivation. Why should I be paid less for doing half the job that somebody else does? Eh? Eh?

  20. Iain Watson

    To Ned Fowden......

    It is fairly obvious from your comment that you are NOT ginger, If you were you would understand the abuse that some of us red heads come under on very nearly a daily basis.

    I am nearly 30 and I still cross the road if I even catch sight of a group of kids. I have even caught parents egging their kids on to point and laugh at the 'Ginger Minge' walking past!!

    I challenge you to find 1 ginger bloke that has not suffered abuse from an early age.

    For people to say that it is a joke this sort of thing happens they should try being ginger for a couple of weeks and see how they feel about the names and looks!

  21. Graeme

    Red is Sexy

    It's official, red hair had a huge boom of popularity... Ok, so it was many, many (manymanymany) millions of years ago, but it's gonna happen again at some point!

    When our Primate ancestors started to evolve techni-colour vision, us gingers where leading the revolution!

  22. Graham

    Constant harrassment and denigration at a young age

    Until you fight back to stop it.

    The sad thing is that it isn't only children who pick on ginger people (children will always find someone to pick on because children aren't actually "little adults" despite what their parents think, and they will pick on the minority that is visibly different) it's adults as well.

    Every couple of months when walking down the street minding my own business, someone will find it very amusing to very vocally point out the colour of my hair. Whilst I personally think this is a big step up for them intellectually, if you did that to a black person or disabled person you'd be vilified and possibly arrested.

    I think people underestimate the effects of fairly constant bullying and demeaning on someone. Each attack taken individually is fairly minor, but as a whole it can leave people with no self-esteem, depression and other lasting issues for many years.

    Sadly every few years if you get a group of equally-nonintellectual idiots together, they take it further. Having spent time in hospital because of this, I can no longer agree with the opinion that it is 'a bit of fun', 'larking about' and 'take it like a man'. Red hair is not a choice, unlike piercings, weight and clothes style. It's as genetic as skin colour and sex, and should be afforded the same weight in law.

    However I don't think that hair colour is as big an issue with gaining employment as sex and skin colour. It's far more of an issue when it comes to bullying, harrassment and social prejudices, and should be equal in the law in these situations.

  23. Andrew Moore


    At school I was bullied for being "Irish" (my mother is Irish though I was born in England). One of the biggest abusers was a redhead. I like to think what goes around, comes around...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a ginge here, but still standing up for them...

    Having been a victim of much harrassment as a child (not for my hair colour but rather the lack of it), I feel for the family in question. To cause endless harrassment and distress is an action to feel self-important as a complete non-important person. A universal non-discrimination act sounds perfect, but in reality is it not. Ambulance-chasers will use that unified law as the perfect excuse to milk everyone for money.

    Go kick their asses gingers!!!

  25. Jollytwanger

    Media is to blame

    Hurtful abuse of any kind should not be tolerated but I do feel something should be done

    legally to prevent the continued media (namley channel 4) piss takes, which were focused on black and asian people in the


  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very British Bigotry

    As a non-brit living in the uk I am constantly appalled at the level of gingerism I see (and "ginger" and "gingerism" are worlds I learned here).

    The British are famous for having a laugh and taking the piss but a large minority can be vindictive and bullying when it comes to redheads (and in general) and a silent minority sit by and let it happen.

    Joking about hair colour, skin colour, baldness, fatness or anything should be acceptable up to a point if meant and taken well but a lot of people don't seem to know where that line between joking and bullying is. If you don't stop when the other person is offended or upset by what you say you are bullying them. If you can't tell that another person is upset by your comments whether they admit to it or stand up for themselves or not you lack a very basic social skill and to be frank must be somewhat retarded (in the literal sense).

    Bullying of any form should not be allowed in schools, at work or on the street. It's a form of socially transmitted disease that can and should be eradicated.

    I say all this as somebody who has never actually been bullied but i have witnessed it and it is wrong.

  27. Iain Paterson

    If you're bitten, call poison control immediately!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Your last paragraph iilustrates the problem here :

    "However I don't think that hair colour is as big an issue with gaining employment as sex and skin colour. It's far more of an issue when it comes to bullying, harrassment and social prejudices, and should be equal in the law in these situations."

    It IS equal under the law, and always has been. The problem is that losers these days expect the law to specifically spell out their own circumstances, or they feel that they are being discriminated against.

    Try being a single white heterosexual male and see what extra benefits that gets you - answer = none (in legal terms).

    I'm fed up with the law being forever twisted to include people who feel (mistakenly) that they are somehow outside the system that was designed to cater to all of us.

    You are not Special, you claim equality, but want priority.

    Get a life.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Gingers just need to call the others by what they are:


    premature baldy

    coal hair

    piss hair

    poo hair

    grey old coot

    If you an dish it out, you sure as hell better be willing to take it.

  30. Chris


    As someone from the US, I'm actually a bit surprised. I never knew that red-haired people were picked on / harassed in other countries (I don't see it here). Here, in the US, it's blondes who get the insults. Do you not insult blondes in the UK?

    If they do craft a law to "protect" hair color, does that mean I can color my hair blue or people and expect to be treated the same as everyone else? I was picked on a lot in high school simply for the type of music I listened to. I listened to metal when the majority of kids listened to top 40 / pop. I was constantly called Satan. Did it affect me? Not really. Now, I realize it's probably not the same, but my point is that most kids are picked on in school. It's a rite of passage, if you will. Is it fair? No. But it's the way it's always been, and to think that you're somehow going to change the way people instinctively act is foolish.

    Which brings me to my last point. I'm all in favor of eliminating all forms of discrimination. I can't even count the number of jobs I was turned down for simply because I have long hair (even minimum-wage retail jobs). However, I do feel that we go too far when crying "discrimination". For example, here in the US, it is illegal to refuse to hire somebody based on their language. Let me be more blunt. I cannot refuse to hire a worker simply because they don't speak English. I speak English, my clients speak English, so any person working for me needs to speak English in order to communicate with me and my clients. But I cannot legally make that a requirement for employment, because the federal government views it as discrimination.

  31. trollboy


    Buck up Gingers. I used to get called "Sasquatch", "Gigantor" or "Big Guy" all the time. And then I came to the stark realization that I've about 200lbs and a foot and a half on everyone in the office. Now I rule by fear. You can too!

    It pays to be voted "Most likely to commit an office shooting while employeed here" eight years running!

  32. Jonathan Richards

    Russian red-heads


    Leaving aside your casual libel of all red-heads, can you possibly be unaware that Russia is *named* after people with red hair? Russia, the land of the red heads, probably from the Vikings who spread the gene so widely in Scotland and Ireland, too.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The silly season has arrived, I see

    Relax, you fulminating shower of Daily Wail readers. Some of you seem to be under the impression that baiting red-heads is about to be specifically outlawed. All the employment lawyer quoted in this article has said is that using someone's red hair as a pretext to bully them at work is still bullying. It's not rocket science, it's not even a proper news story. Someone asked 'what about blondes?'. Well, using someone's blonde hair as an excuse to bully them is also - ah, you're ahead of me - still bullying.

  34. voshkin

    Russians are not redheads

    @Jonathan Richards

    Russia is named after Rus’ (Latin characters cannot represent the sound) anyway, it is “blonde” not red-head. Original Russians are “golden haired” and that is reflected in the name.

    Check your facts.

  35. Henry Wertz

    Isn't this racist?

    I would think if "racism" can be used to avoid hassling people based on skin color, it could for hair color too. I mean, isn't red hair color, like black skin, also a genetically inherited trait, which originated in a fairly localized area? (That is, a racial trait?) I don't see how one could be included and not the other.

    Note, this is the first I've heard of gingerism.. In the states, we've just got (despite it being illegal) some remaining racism against blacks.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Redheads in the US vs. UK

    Zowie, I'm a redhead in the US, and I had absolutely no idea that people discriminated against us elsewhere. I'd never even heard the term "Ginger" to refer to us until that South Park episode. "Fire crotch" I'd heard, but never really in a derogatory way, believe it or not...

    While being red-headed was a bit of a novelty as a child, I was never bullied about it.

    I'll now think twice about visiting the UK. Is there anyplace else in Europe that's off limits to me? :-/

  37. Sean Ryan

    You're in the wrong country

    I hesitate to repeat this in a public forum, but what the heck. There's a joke I heard in College:

    The mating call of a blonde: "I'm drunk."

    The mating call of a brunette: "I'm SOOO drunk!"

    The mating call of a redhead: "Next."

    I suppose you could gather from this that redheads have "loose moral fibre", but I always just assumed the joke referred to general popularity. In any case, redheads tend to be favored in the U.S.

  38. voshkin

    Can let "voshkin" go unchallenged....

    @Martin Benson

    >it's generally correct to assume that if you see a ginger-haired female, she's promiscuous???

    If you see the post from Sean Ryan, you will see that it is apparently not just Russians who believe red-heads to be promiscuous.

    So there must be something to it ;-)

    P.S. I do not know many Russians who do not like to partake in copious amounts of various spirits, and many Russians that I know have some ties to the organised crime...

    So perhaps stereotypes do hold true (whilst on holiday, I did observe German-towel-on-sun-bed ritual)

  39. Greg Nelson

    And What About Compliments?

    It's easy enough for those of you who suffer under one, even two, social pox but what about those of use who must soldier on under a unstopping barrage of compliments? Being born extravagantly good looking with a physical prowess that readily invites favourable comparisons to professional athletes, the IQ of an Einstein and the spirit of Prometheus unbound is no easy measure to live with. The principles that invest political correctness have to be equally brought to bear on the civic inequalities that befall the richly endowed. What is a compliment if not prejudice? A compliment as surely sets expectations those bearing the brunt of the compliment shouldn't be expected to live under. It's got to stop. I'm just not sure I can take much more.

  40. voshkin


    An interesting side-note, that I am sure will piss everybody [read – read-heads] off, is...

    What I found in my out-of-shear-boredom observation of humanity is that most red-heads I observe are in some way involved in crime.

    In Russia, I can wager (and most probably win) that if you do some research about any red-head, father/brother/uncle of that person would have most probably been “inside”.

    Australia, for example, has a very large proportion of read-heads, and do you remember how that country begun?

    In UK, I find that although red-heads are spread across the community, I observe more of them in poorer communities, and in documentaries about unruly children, or neighbours from hell.

    It must be said, however, that there are several different types of red-heads, The “real” gingers can be distinguished by white, pigmented skin, noticeable sharp chin, red lips, and blue/green eyes, with pink “soft skin” bits.

    P.S. and about the actual article: When I had to fire a guy, it was a nightmare, I had to consult with lawyers, thankfully, their bill was covered by my trade industry organisation, but still. If I want to fire somebody, I do think that it should be that difficult. I will hire a guy to be a salesrep, and he then becomes “goth” or something along those lines, I want to fire him, without fearing tenth of thousands of pounds in fines and settlements!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe someone missed the worst ...

    redhead nickname - red headed rat rooter - there was also the common carrot top, bluey, etc etc.

    Australia is quite a nasty place for redheads (despite our obvious convict abundance here ;)). We were always teased as kids (& sometimes adults) because we didn't fit in. Asian kids, Aboriginal kids even Carnie kids got less harrassment and bullying than we did, mainly because the other kids new we had tempers and would bite (well eventually that is).

    One thing I have noticed with being a redhead is that public speaking is always an issue, regardless of confidence levels.

    I have found through talking to other redheads and from my own personal experience that when giving a speech it is quite common for the face to heat up, and become blushed due to some extra amount of blood rushing to the head. The worst thing is that once you notice it (which is almost impossible to not) it gets worse and becomes so bad it gets hard to continue without pausing to allow the body to cool down.

    This ontop of extreme succeptibility to UV rays from the sun makes Australia a great country to live in if you're a redhead, maybe I should move to the states.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absolutely no need for legislation

    We can solve this problem of discrimination with the use of genetic manipulation.

    First, at the creation stage, we 'filter' embryos displaying unappealing characteristics. We can do this via foetal removal techniques for poor people, and for wealthier couples with undesirable offspring, via embryonic manipulation to secure traits acceptable to society.

    Next, we can adopt social policies to marginalise the undesirables. Link them with promiscuity, thievery, terrorism. Naturally we would need to build correctional institutions in which to manage these 'untermenschen'.

    Over time, once we have identified the undesirables, perhaps with the use of symbols, say perhaps yellow stars, we can corral them into specialised camps. This will of course be for their own safety and well-being. A society within a society.

    Next, comes what I like to term 'The Final Solution', which will help us create 'The Master Race'.

    Clearly, we do not need legislation to deal with discrimination. Such legislation merely papers over the cracks. We need robust, bold and original solutions as outlined above. Solutions that eliminate the source of discomfort, not legislation that offers protection.


    On a more serious note, a couple I know recently had a baby. One of their major fears, I kid you not, was that the child would have ginger characteristics. I wonder how many other strawberry blond couples lie awake at night dreading the birth of a russet-topped hier.

  43. Kevin

    Think of the benefits?

    I have a ginger mate that is very, very competitive - he is the best at football, mario kart, running, an excellent marksman, one of the last to pass out after a party - everything I can think of he is better at it than I!

    I feel this is the case because he has had to prove himself, be it to others or to himself, and he has done very well out of it.

    So you can rise above it, or you can come to el reg and whinge about unfairness - its your choice!

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