Bullying and Harassment Policy : examples of harassing behaviour

This tool gives examples of harassing behaviours that are unacceptable in the workplace.

Examples of harassing behaviour

Harassment can be related to:

  • age (covers all age groups)
  • disability (mental and physical health)
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race (colour, nationality, ethnicity, national origins)
  • religion or beliefs
  • sex or gender
  • sexual orientation
  • other personal characteristics such as trans identities including non-binary, carers responsibilities, physical appearance

Types of harassing behaviour

The most common forms of harassment are listed below and are specifically directed towards protected or personal characteristics. This can be one significant incident or an ongoing pattern of behaviour. It is not an exhaustive list:

  • offensive jokes, banter and comments
  • ostracising or "freezing out", ignoring and staring
  • patronising comments and remarks
  • mimicking
  • use of derogatory terms
  • inappropriate personal questions or comments
  • belittling or patronising comments or nicknames
  • assault or other non-accidental physical contact, including disability aids
  • the display, sending or sharing of offensive letters, publications, objects, images or sounds
  • graffiti
  • offensive comments about appearance or clothing
  • deliberate and consistent behaviours which demonstrate a non-acceptance of aspects relating to protected or personal characteristics, for example, failure to use requested gender pronoun for a transitioning individual

In addition, other specific behaviours may be attributed to sexual harassment or stalking, these may also be criminal acts.

Sexual harassment

Examples of sexual harassment:

  • indecent exposure
  • sexual assault
  • unwelcome sexual advances, propositions or pressure for sexual activity, continued suggestions for social activity within or outside the workplace after it has been made clear that such suggestions are unwelcome
  • suggestions that sexual favours may further a colleague's career or refusal may hinder it, for example, promotions, salary increases etc
  • leering, whistling or making sexually suggestive comments or gestures, innuendoes or lewd comments


Examples of stalking behaviour:

  • persistent attempts to make contact with an employee, for example through email, telephone, social media, or on behalf of a third party
  • following, watching or photographing an employee
  • repeated sending of overly personal, malicious or threatening messages or items


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