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Harassment, as defined in the Equality Act 2010 is unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.
To be protected under the Equality Act 2010, harassment must be related to one of the following “protected characteristics” – gender reassignment, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief (and in Northern Ireland political opinion) or nationality. Harassment may be an isolated incident or come up again and again.
Under the Equality Act, employers are also responsible for their staff who harass other employees, but can escape such liability if they can demonstrate that they took reasonable practical steps to prevent the harassment from happening.
Some of the classic signs of harassment include:
- unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials, asking for sexual favors, making decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected;
- derogatory homophobic comments being made about you;
- being frequently teased and humiliated about a disability that you have
Harassment also covers harassment relates to sex (sexual harassment). This can include “sexual banter” and other sexual conduct which violates dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for a woman.
If you have had to leave your place of employment, or you are considering resignation as a direct result of harassment at work including unwanted sexual advances or derogatory/ homophobic comments, call us today.
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