Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an employee or job applicant’s dignity, or, creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the employee.
It is common for harassment claims to result from workplace banter or a joke which an individual made not considering or intending it to be offensive, and perhaps at first glance is not related to a particular protected characteristic.
For example: an employee thinks it is inoffensive to say ‘Ooo la la’ whenever a French colleague finishes speaking but his colleague becomes sick of this joke.
Harassment can take the form of a one-off incident or a series of incidents. As with direct discrimination an employee does not need to have the protected characteristic to make a harassment claim.
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