The University of Kent is committed to fostering a positive working environment where all staff and students are treated fairly, with dignity, courtesy, respect and consideration.

To report an incident of harassment, please click the button.

Two members of staff reading a piece of paper and talking.

What is harassment? 

Harassment is defined in three ways by the Equality Act (2010):

  1.  Unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the complainant, or violating the complainant's dignity (this applies to all the protected characteristics apart from pregnancy and maternity, and marriage and civil partnership).
  2.  Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment).
  3.  Treating a person less favourably than another person because they either have submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment.

There is no definitive list of behaviour, which could be defined as harassment, but examples could include physical violence or intimidation, public humiliation, personal insults, persecution, racist/homophobic insults, stalking and shouting. More subtle forms of harassment could be excluding someone, excessive monitoring of work or failure to safeguard confidentiality.

In deciding what harassment is, it is the perceptions of the recipient of the behaviour that are important. Harassment can have been deemed to occur even if the intention was not present, but the recipient believed they were being harassed.

Additional protection from recurrent harassment, which is not covered by the Equality Act 2010, is provided for in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This Act, like harassment based on a protected characteristic, creates vicarious liability for employers.

Harassment – unwanted behaviour or conduct which is related to a legally protected characteristic

In order to protect and support members of the University from harassment, the University has developed a Dignity@Work Policy for staff and Respect at Kent Policy and provides guidance on behaviour, which may constitute harassment, information and advice for victims of harassment and informal dispute resolution through a trained network of harassment contacts.

As it can be seen, the definition of harassment is wide.

 The University of Kent has created online harassment tools for Staff and Students to report incidents which cover a number of potential situations which include:

Bullying: Characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient

Harassment: Unwanted conduct related to a person's protected characteristic/s which has the purpose or effect either of violating a person's dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person

Direct Discrimination: Different treatment of two individuals where the reason for the difference in treatment is a protected characteristic

Indirect Discrimination: A practice, policy, or action, which may at first appear neutral in its effects, but at closer examination disproportionately and adversely effects a person's protected characteristic.

Discrimination by association: Where a person does not have a protected characteristic themselves but is treated less favourably because of their relationship with someone who does e.g. the parent of a disabled child of a disabled child

Discrimination by perception: Acting or behaving in a discriminatory way towards a person due to the belief that they have a protected characteristic, whether or not they have such a characteristic

Sexual Harassment: A person feels humiliated, offended or degraded because they have been treated in a sexual way.  This is known as 'unwanted conduct of a sexual nature' and covers verbal and physical treatment, like sexual comments or jokes, touching, or assault. It also covers sending emails of a sexual nature, or putting up pornographic pictures.’ (Equality and Human Rights Commission). Unfair treatment because a person has declined sexual advances or has previously accepted sexual advances.

The Reporting Process

Anonymous Reporting

The online reporting tools provide options to report anonymously.

If you choose to report anonymously, we will not be able to offer direct advice and are unlikely to begin any formal processes. The information that you provide in the report will remain confidential and will only be used to monitor issues at the University of Kent

If you choose to provide contact details, you will receive a copy of the form that you have completed.

What Happens next

The University takes these reports very seriously appreciates all information that is provided. If contact information is provided, someone will make contact within 5 days, this will be the chosen harassment contact for staff or if a specific contact has not been chosen any one of the harassment contacts will be in contact.

Once contact is made further, information of the incident will be taken, next steps will be discussed and information on support will be provided.

For Staff Refer to the Dignity at work procedure for further information on next steps i.e. Informal and Formal Resolution and the Respect at Kent Policy for students.

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