What is harassment?

Section 26(1) of the Equality Act 2010 states that harassment occurs if:

A person (A) harasses another (B) if—
(a) A engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected
characteristic, and
(b) the conduct has the purpose or effect of—
(i) violating B’s dignity, or
(ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or
offensive environment for B

What kind of conduct does this refer to?

Any kind of conduct, really. It can range from abusive remarks in the corridor, to the sending of an email with offensive material within it, to your boss putting up a “nude female” calendar on the office wall. What’s important is being able to identify what the conduct was and proving that it took place.

The conduct doesn’t necessarily have to related to your protected characteristic (age, sex, race etc.). You can be legally harassed if remarks are made about other people’s protected characteristic (i.e. inappropriate comments are made about French people with no French people present) or if the person making the offensive remark has a false perception that you possess the protected characteristic (i.e. they believe you’re a Muslim when you’re not).

What is unwanted conduct?

Whether conduct is unwanted or not depends on your subjective state of mind. If you haven’t solicited the conduct and/or don’t engage with such conduct on a frequent basis (or at all) then it is relatively safe to assume that the conduct is unwanted. However, whether the conduct is unwanted will depend on the facts of the particular circumstances.

What is a relevant protected characteristic?

Unlike direct discrimination, the conduct afforded does not have to be because of your protected characteristic – it only has to be related to it.

How long do I have to make a claim for harassment?

You have 3 months less 1 day from the date of the harassment to make a complaint to the Employment Tribunal. However, complaints of harassment tend to have multiple incidents of unwanted conduct so there may be different limitation dates in each case.

How do I make a claim for harassment?

The ET1 form must be submitted to the relevant Employment Tribunal (see the postcode list to determine which is the relevant Employment Tribunal) within the relevant time limits.

There are two ways that a claim can be approached:

  • You can either choose to do this yourself (i.e. a Claimant in person); or
  • Instruct specialist employment solicitors to do this on your behalf (possibly on a no-win, no-fee agreement)

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