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Harassment Under the Equality Act 2010

Harassment Under the Equality Act 2010
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What Is Harassment?

Harassment is defined in S26 of the Equalities Act 2010 . This guide explains harassment under the Act and provides you with the resources to structure your grievance or employment tribunal claim correctly.

There are three types of harassment;

  • 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
  • Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment)
  • Treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment

The employment tribunal considers your perception of the harassment. Harassment can happen even if the person did not intend to harass you, but you felt that you were being harassed.

Under the Equalities Act 2010, it is unlawful to harass an employee or worker for a reason to their protected characteristic. Harassment applies to all the protected characteristics except pregnancy, maternity, marriage and civil partnership.

You can complain about harassment which;

  • is directed at you.
  • creates an offensive environment for you, even if it is not directed at you at all.
  • as a result of perception and association (see direct discrimination).

[see How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a direct discrimination claimHow to prepare a Scott Schedule for a victimisation claimHow to prepare a Scott Schedule for a harassment claimHow to prepare a Scott Schedule for a sexual harassment claimHow to ask questions about discrimination at workHow to write a grievance about discrimination]

If you are being harassed at work, use the Grievance Builder to raise a grievance or the ET1 Builder to write your Employment Tribunal Claim


The employers in these cases were guilty of harassment and had to pay compensation.

In Michela Curto v The European Parliament, a member of the European Parliament hired a parliamentary assistant. She subjected her to psychological harassment consisting of humiliating and scornful language, threats, insults and swearing. The Court said that the degree of repetitive and systematic intentional behaviour could not be excused. It was also an inherently stressful atmosphere, and awarded €10,000.

In SQ v European Investment Bank, an administrator claimed that her career at the European Investment Bank had been damaged by bullying. The Bank awarded her compensation but imposed a confidentiality requirement. The Court said that it was wrong to impose a confidentiality requirement, because the public interest required such findings of harassment to be open. Imposing confidentiality also went against the aim of preventing and penalising European Institutions which permitted harassment. The Court awarded €10,000 because of the confidentiality requirement.

Last Updated: [06/01/2022]