Harassment is a form of discrimination and is illegal under the Equality Act 2010. The Act defines harassment as when a person engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic and the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or threatening environment.
When deciding whether any unwanted conduct amounts to harassment for the purposes of this policy, the University will consider the perception of the person raising the concern, the other circumstances of the matter and whether it is reasonable for the conduct to be considered to have the purpose or effect described. Harassment can be in verbal, written or physical form and can cause stress, anxiety, fear or sickness on the part of the harassed person.
Differences of attitude, background or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as harassment by one person may not seem so to another. However, this does not make it acceptable.
Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be accepted as an excuse for harassment.
Some general examples of harassment or behaviour that falls short of expected standards might include teasing, comments about personal characteristics or appearance, unreasonable criticism, promises of reward or threats made to secure sexual favours or negative comments about someone’s age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation or other characteristics to which protection is provided.
Any act of harassment that involves the abuse of a position of authority or trust will be regarded by the University as very serious and could constitute gross misconduct.