Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment
Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment are considered discrimination under the Equality Act.
Sexual harassment is defined as verbal, non-verbal or physical unwanted conduct of a sexual nature by which a person’s psychological or physical integrity is violated intentionally or factually, in particular by creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere.
Gender-based harassment means unwanted conduct that is not of a sexual nature but which is related to the gender of a person, their gender identity or gender expression, and by which the person’s psychological or physical integrity is intentionally or factually violated and an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive atmosphere is created.
Sexual harassment can be expressed in the following ways:
- sexually suggestive gestures or expressions
- indecent talk, puns and comments or questions referring to body parts, clothing or private life
- pornographic material, sexually suggestive letters, emails, text messages or phone calls
- physical contact
- suggestions or demands for sexual intercourse or other kinds of sexual activity
- rape or attempted rape
Gender-based harassment can be expressed in the following ways:
- degrading talk concerning another person's gender
- belittling the opposite gender
- workplace or school bullying, when this is based on the victim's gender.
Do you suspect discrimination?
- If you suspect that you have been discriminated against you can receive instructions and guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality.
- In cases of discrimination at work:
If you are a member of a trade union you should get in touch with the union steward and find out your rights.
- Guidance from the Ombudsman for Equality is free. The trade union membership fee includes the right to legal advice.
- You can also contact a legal aid council, a lawyer's office or a lawyer. You will usually be charged for legal services. Check if you have the kind of legal expenses insurance which covers your legal expenses.
If you are of limited means you may be entitled to the services of a legal aid council for free or for a reduced fee.