Harassment is unwanted conduct or behaviour that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.  Sexual harassment is unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct or behaviour of a sexual nature.

Whether a particular type of conduct is harassment is not determined by the intention of the perpetrator, but by the effect it has on the victim.

Conduct that could constitute harassment may take many different forms, such as unwanted physical conduct, offensive, insulting jokes, personal insults, unwelcome remarks about a person's appearance, ethnic background or family status, isolation by other colleagues, the display of offensive, sexually explicit material or bullying.

example Telling insulting jokes about people of a certain ethnic origin at the workplace may constitute harassment. Sending explicit text messages about sexual preferences to a colleague may constitute sexual harassment.

Negative comments about the quality of someone’s work, without reference to one’s personal characteristics, do not constitute harassment.

example Work-related emails with negative remarks about someone’s working habits, if written in a neutral way and referring to actual performance, do not violate the prohibition of harassment.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education