Dignity at Work - Definitions

Definition of Harassment

Harassment 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” (Equality Act 2010).

The behaviour or treatment may relate to a person’s gender, disability, gender reassignment or gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, age or any other protected characteristic.

Harassment may consist of persistent behaviour, although one single act may be considered sufficiently serious to warrant formal or informal reporting.

Definition of Discrimination

Unlawful discrimination takes place when an individual or a group of people is treated less favourably than others based on a protected characteristic such as age, disability, gender reassignment or gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity (including treating a woman less favourably because she is breastfeeding), race, religion or belief sex or sexual orientation and in relation to direct discrimination only.

“Direct discrimination occurs where someone is treated less favourably because of one of the protected characteristics set out above; this can include association with or a perception of a particular characteristic” (The Equality Act 2010).

“Indirect discrimination occurs where someone is disadvantaged by an unjustified provision, criteria or practice that puts people with a particular protected characteristic at a disadvantage compared with others who do not share that characteristic” (The Equality Act 2010).

Definition of Victimisation

“Victimisation occurs when an employee is treated badly because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act; or because they are suspected of doing so. An employee is not protected from victimisation if they have maliciously made or supported an untrue complaint.” (The Equality Act 2010)."

Definition of Discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic.

Discrimination by association associative discrimination applies for all practical purposes to all the discrimination strands. This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.

Indirect discrimination when a condition, rule, policy or even a practice applies to everyone, but has a disproportionate impact on people with a protected characteristic.

Definition of Bullying

Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

The behaviour or treatment may relate to a person’s gender, disability, gender re-assignment or gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, age or any other protected characteristic.

In addition the University recognises that bullying does not need to be deliberate; someone may demonstrate bullying behaviour, without intending to. Bullying may be obvious or it may be more covert. Whichever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual and will often cause embarrassment, fear, humiliation or distress to an individual or group of individuals.

Obvious Signs Less Obvious Signs

Open aggression, threats, abuse and obscenities, shouting and uncontrolled anger triggered by trivial situations.

Excessive supervision and monitoring and being excessively critical about minor things with malicious intent.
Humiliating, ridiculing or belittling in front of others, persistent criticism or sarcasm. Taking the credit for the other person's work but never the blame when things go wrong.
Personal insults and name-calling, spreading malicious rumours. Overruling an individual's authority without warning or proper discussion.
Freezing out, ignoring, excluding to isolate victim. Setting impossible objectives or changing targets without telling person.
Never listening to other's point of view, always cutting across people. Setting impossible objectives or changing targets without telling the person.

Electronic Bullying and the Use of Social Networking Sites

Electronic harassment can take place through electronic media, for example, email, instant messaging, social networking websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs), or text messages. When sending emails, all members of staff should consider the content, language and appropriateness of such communications

If instances of what might be online harassment or bullying are reported they will be dealt with in the same way as if they had taken place in a face-to-face setting. Guidance on the appropriate use of social media can be found through: www.sheffield.ac.uk/hr/az/socialmedia.