The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Harassment
  • Which protected characteristics are covered
  • Types of harassment
  • Conduct must be related to a protected characteristic
  • Protected characteristics of third parties: associative discrimination
  • Perceived rather than real protected characteristics
  • Protected characteristic of disability
  • Standard harassment—unwanted unpleasant conduct
  • The purpose of the conduct
  • The effect on the victim
  • More...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: Brexit and IP completion day—implications for employment lawyers.

This Practice Note considers harassment under the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010), namely subjecting someone to unwanted conduct which is either related to a relevant protected characteristics (race, sex etc), or is of a sexual nature, where the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating the victim's dignity or creating an environment that is intimidating (eg bullying), hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive.

Which protected characteristics are covered

There is protection from harassment where it relates to one or more of the following protected characteristics (see: Protected characteristics—overview):

  1. age

  2. disability

  3. gender reassignment

  4. race

  5. religion or belief

  6. sex, and

  7. sexual orientation

Note that marriage, civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity are not explicitly protected; see: Harassment which is not protected, below.

Types of harassment

There is one type of harassment which is common to all the protected characteristics which are covered (see above): see Standard harassment—unwanted unpleasant conduct,

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