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Examples of harassment

The grounds for harassment are varied and can include:

  • Race, ethnic origin, nationality or skin colour
  • Disabilities including physical disabilities, hidden disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities or mental health issues
  • Religious or political convictions
  • Sex, sexual orientation, sexual reassignment or gender identity
  • Age
  • Physical characteristics (e.g. weight, height)
  • Real or suspected infection with HIV/AIDS
  • Past criminal record
  • Willingness to challenge people who harass or bully others which may in turn result in victimisation

Marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity are not included as protected characteristics for complaints of harassment.

Racial harassment

  • Any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person
  • Refusing to work with someone or deliberately isolating them because of their race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin
  • Displaying racially offensive material including graffiti, graphics, slogans or logos that have racial undertones (e.g. t-shirts or mugs)
  • Racist jokes, banter, insinuations, insults and taunts
  • Verbal and physical abuse/attacks on individuals because of their race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin
  • Assaults motivated by race, colour, ethnic or national origins
  • Using language that is offensive or derogatory on the basis of race, or making racist remarks to or about a person

Harassment of workers with disabilities

  • Asking inappropriate questions about a person’s impairment such as how it occurred and what it is like to be disabled
  • Name calling, jokes, taunts and use of offensive language
  • Assuming that a physical disability means that the individual is inferior
  • Assuming that a mental disability means that the individual lacks intelligence
  • Banter relating to the disability of a person, or mocking a person with a disability
  • Excluding a person because of their disability
  • Using upsetting words about, or being offensive when describing, a person’s disability, or when generally describing the person

Harassment on the grounds of religion

  • Making remarks about religions generally and their practices or specifically mocking a person’s religious beliefs
  • Making unwanted comments on dress
  • Making it unnecessarily difficult for people to conform to their religious beliefs
  • Exacerbating or causing arguments over religious differences between religious groups or people following particular faiths
  • Gossiping/chatting about a person’s religious views or beliefs
  • Excluding a person because of their religious views or beliefs, or treating somebody differently because of their views
  • Sectarian views, beliefs and violence
  • Displaying symbolism and slogans that are offensive or could be interpreted as offensive

Harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation

  • Homophobic or biphobic comments, jokes and name-calling made generally or to/about a person based on their sexual orientation, or that of their partner or any relative
  • Dissemination of homophobic or biphobic materials
  • Repeated references to a person’s sexual orientation
  • Spreading perceptions/rumours about somebody’s sexual orientation, either actual or perceived
  • Outing a person without their consent or spreading rumours
  • Prejudiced views
  • Excluding a person from conversation and activities because of their sexual orientation
  • Excluding a same sex partner when opposite sex partners are included
  • Intrusive questioning about an individual’s personal or sex life
  • Being offensive or making offensive gestures a person on their sexual orientation
  • Homophobic remarks or banter

Harassment of the grounds of gender identity (including transgender and non-binary)

  • Transphobic or bi-phobic comments, jokes and name-calling
  • Refusing to treat a person as the gender they identify
  • Failing to address a person by their preferred name and correct gender pronouns
  • Denying people access to the appropriate single sex facilities such as changing rooms
  • Outing a person as transgender without their consent or spreading rumours (this may also be a criminal offence)
  • Intrusive questioning

Sexual harassment

  • Unwelcome sexual advances and propositions
  • Physical contact such as the invasion of personal space and unnecessary touching through to sexual assault
  • Unwanted or derogatory comments about clothing or appearance
  • Asking questions of a sexual nature
  • Jokes, gestures and language of a lewd/sexual nature
  • Displaying sexually suggestive or sexually explicit material in the workplace or circulating such material in emails
  • Comments regarding an individual’s appearance or body
  • Office gossip or detrimental speculation about private sexual activities
  • Treating a person less favourably because they have rejected, or submitted to, unwanted conduct that is related to sex or is of a sexual nature (including blocking promotion and refusal of training or other development opportunities)

Age harassment

  • Derogatory comments relating to age made to or about a person
  • Ageist jokes
  • Assumptions about a person based on their age
  • Being dismissive towards a person because of their age
  • Excluding a person from work social events because of their age
  • Banter relating to the decline of a person’s physical/mental abilities on account of age
  • Banter relating to the age of a person’s partner, such as an older or a younger partner

Please note: the above lists are not exclusive or exhaustive.

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