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...


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.

The Practice Note also considers the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 1997) (see: Protection from Harassment Act 1997, below).

In its response to a consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace in July 2021, the government indicated its intention to:

  1. introduce a new legislative duty requiring employers to ‘take all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’

  2. support the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in developing a statutory code of practice to complement the EHRC’s technical guidance

  3. produce guidance for employers outlining practical steps

  4. strengthen the EHRC’s strategic enforcement action against employers who have been found liable for breaches of EqA 2010

This Practice Note contains references to case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Broadly, EU judgments handed down on or before the end of the Brexit transition period/IP completion day (11 pm on 31 December 2020) continue to be binding on UK courts and tribunals (even if the EU courts

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