This is defined as unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, although, the protected characteristic does not necessarily have to belong to the victim. Harassment can also be unwanted conduct that is sexual in nature.
In both these cases the conduct must have the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for them.
An example of unwelcome physical contact
This may range from unnecessary touching or brushing against another person's body, physical assault, coercing sexual intercourse, physical threats, insulting or abusive behaviours or gestures. This may also encompass invading someone's personal space; by standing very close to him or her where this is unnecessary.
An example of unwelcome written, visual or physical interaction
This may include sending unwelcome emails, notes or pictures, displaying or sending offensive material (for example, displaying pin-ups of males or females in states of undress), making obscene or offensive gestures, persistently sending unwanted gifts, or following, spying or stalking someone.
An example of unwelcome verbal conduct
This may include the making of remarks and comments about appearance, lewd comments, sexual advances, innuendo and banter, the making or repetition of offensive or stereotyped comments, jokes or songs, the making of threats or the making of patronising comments (for example, comments which repeatedly draw attention to a person's disability or impairment).
The definition of harassment has been extended so that it now prohibits harassment based on association with, or perception of, a protected characteristic.
Examples of harassment based on perception or association
A GP partner makes offensive remarks and jokes about people with autism to another GP partner who has a son with autism (harassment based on association).
A nurse spreads rumours and makes offensive comments because they believe a colleague is Muslim, irrespective of whether the colleague is a Muslim or not (harassment based on perception).