Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
More details on the Equality Act 2010.
Harassment may occur physically, verbally or non-verbally and it can be intentional or unintentional. It also includes treating someone less favourably because they have submitted, or refused to submit, to such behaviour in the past.
Protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 include: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. We believe harassment is unacceptable even if it does not fall within any of these categories.
There is no definitive list of behaviour, which could be defined as harassment, but examples could include:
- unwanted physical conduct or ‘horseplay’, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault
- offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks
- mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability
- racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender
- outing or threatening to out someone as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans
- ignoring or shunning someone, for example, by deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a social activity.
A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended "target". For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if they create an offensive environment.
In deciding what harassment is, the perceptions of the recipient of the behaviour are important, as harassment can have been deemed to occur even if the intention was not present, but the recipient believed they were being harassed.
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.
Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. Non-verbal conduct includes postings on social media outlets. Bullying may include, by way of example:
- shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others
- physical or psychological threats
- overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision
- inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone's performance
- abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority
- deliberately excluding someone from meetings or communications without good reason
Bullying and harassment are contrary to the Equality Act 2010 and the University EDI policy which can be viewed by clicking here.