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. 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.
Harassment relating to a protected characteristic is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 and contravenes the Academy Student Charter and CUKSN Respect Policy. Protected characteristics are: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy or maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation. Harassment is always unacceptable, even if it does not fall within any of these categories.
Harassment may include, for example:
- 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 by, for example, 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.
Some forms of harassment are considered a hate crime. A hate incident or crime is any act of violence or hostility against a person or property that is motivated by hostility or prejudice towards a person due to a particular protected characteristic.