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Policy & Procedure on Harassment

HR/468

Introduction

The University has formulated a policy statement on harassment together with guidelines on its implementation and made it fully available to all staff and students. Harassment of people at work is a feature of discrimination and procedures to deal with harassment must be an integral part of any equal opportunities strategy.

The Law

The University has a clear responsibility in law (Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, Equality Act 2010, Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Human Rights Act 1998, Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, Employment Equality Regulations on Religion or Belief and Sexual Orientation 2003, and Gender Recognition Act 2004) to ensure that all forms of harassment and bullying are stopped effectively.

Policy Statement

Lancaster University aims to provide a working and learning environment which will be stimulating and supportive and free of unlawful discrimination. Harassment can seriously worsen working and social conditions for staff and students at the University. Lancaster University has agreed a procedure for dealing with complaints of harassment. Any incidents of harassment will be regarded extremely seriously and may be grounds for disciplinary action including dismissal or expulsion.

It is recognised that informal channels can be the most effective means of preventing or stopping harassment. Where a formal complaint is lodged, the University's Grievance and Disciplinary Procedure will apply.

Defining Harassment

Harassment can be a source of great stress to an individual. It may be so serious and unrelenting that the person who is being, or has been, harassed feels it necessary to change job or change their academic course. All members of the University, whether staff or students, are responsible for helping to ensure that individuals do not suffer any form of harassment, and that they are encouraged and supported in any legitimate complaint.

Harassment may occur where a harasser has a position of authority (for example, where a teacher, supervisor or administrator is able to affect another person's job, career or grade); harassment in other contexts (for example, by students of fellow-students or of staff members) may equally occur.

Harassment is difficult to define because it may take many different forms. It may consist of behaviour taking place over a period of time or a single incident. A general definition of harassment is that it is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of a specific characteristic of that person such as their race, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age or disability. Sexual and racial harassment have well-established definitions provided by the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality on which the following are based. Definitions of harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, religion and disability ; and of bullying are also given below.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It always involves unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which emphasises sexual status over status as an individual, colleague or student. It is most often found that it is women who are harassed by men. However sexual harassment between members of the same sex, or of men by women, or of transsexual people does also occur. It often, though not always, involves relationships between people of unequal status and involves elements of coercion. It can be: physical, verbal or non-verbal, ranging from intimate contact, suggestive remarks or compromising invitations to aggressively foul language or unwanted demands for sex, or displays of sexually suggestive or degrading pictures in the work place. The outing of a transsexual person would also be considered sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, for study or for social life. Any behaviour that makes the recipient feel unjustifiably viewed as a sexual object is liable to cause offence, even if offence is not intended. Staff and students shall be made aware that differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as sexual harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive to and unwanted by the recipient and would be regarded as sexual harassment by any reasonable person.

Harassment on grounds of sexual orientation may be defined as any hostile or offensive act or expression against a person because of their sexual orientation. Such behaviour can include offensive behaviour or abuse , homophobic remarks or jokes; threats to 'out' lesbian, gay or bisexual staff or students.

Harassment on grounds of sexual orientation occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, study or for social life. It can occur even if offence is not intended. Staff and students shall be made aware that differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive to and unwanted by the recipient and would be regarded as harassment on grounds of sexual orientation by any reasonable person.

Racial harassment may be defined as any hostile or offensive act or expression (or series or combination of such acts) against a person, relating to colour, race, nationality, or ethnic or national origins. It also includes incitement to commit such an act. Such behaviour includes derogatory name-calling, insults and racist jokes, racist graffiti, verbal abuse or threats, physical attack or ridicule of an individual for cultural differences.

Racial harassment occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, study or for social life. Racial harassment can occur even if offence is not intended. Staff and students shall be made aware that differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as racial harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive to and unwanted by the recipient and would be regarded as racial harassment by any reasonable person.

Harassment on grounds of religion may be defined as any hostile or offensive act or expression (or series or combination of such acts) against a person, relating to their faith or a faith they are perceived to belong to. It also includes incitement to commit such an act. Such behaviour includes derogatory name-calling, insults and jokes, graffiti, verbal abuse or threats, physical attack or ridicule of an individual.

Religious harassment occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, study or for social life. It can occur even if offence is not intended. Staff and students shall be made aware that differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as religious harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive to and unwanted by the recipient and would be regarded as harassment by any reasonable person.

Disability harassment may be defined as any hostile or offensive act or expression against a person because of their disability or learning difficulty. It also includes incitement to commit such an act. Such behaviour includes, as well as physical attack, derogatory name-calling, insults and jokes, verbal abuse or threats (this might include abuse relating to particular medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS), and actions which humiliate, demean or ridicule a person because of their disability.

Disability harassment occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, study or for social life. Disability harassment can occur even if offence is not intended. Staff and students shall be made aware that differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as disability harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive to an unwanted by the recipient and would be regarded as disability harassment by any reasonable person.

Bullying or general harassment is a similar misuse of power or position. It may include persistent and unfair criticism or condemnation, humiliation, and the undermining of an individual's ability and confidence. In an academic working and learning environment bullying usually takes the form of irrational and unfair verbal assaults, but physical violence can be involved.

Bullying occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, study or for social life. Bullying can occur even if offence is not intended. Staff and students shall be made aware that differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as bullying by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive to and unwanted by the recipient and would be regarded as bullying by any reasonable person.

Any difficulty in defining what constitutes harassment or bullying should not deter staff or students from complaining of behaviourwhich causes them distress. Nor should anyone be deterred from making a complaint because of embarrassment or fear of intimidation or publicity. The University will respect the particular sensitivity of harassment complaints and their consequences as well as the need for the utmost confidentiality.

The University's Position

The following principles will guide the University's actions:

a)   Harassment of one member of the University community by another is wholly unacceptable behaviour, and it is the University's policy to take any incidents very seriously and to act appropriately.

b)  No complaint of harassment of any type made in good faith will result in detrimental action against the person raising the complaint or their advocates. Any act of victimisation or reprisal against a person complaining of harassment or supporting a complainant will be treated by the University as a disciplinary matter.

c)  Appropriate members of the University's staff will receive training in dealing with harassment, and will be available to any member of staff or student to offer in confidence advice and information as required, channel complaints and negotiate between parties.

d) When reported, complaints of harassment will be considered with all possible speed and the University will take appropriate action as quickly as possible.

e) Though some cases of harassment may be resolved informally, harassment may provide grounds for disciplinary action against individuals up to and including dismissal or expulsion from the University and its disciplinary rules reflect this view.

f) Panels which handle disciplinary or grievance procedures will be entitled to call upon advice from persons more expert in handling harassment. The membership of panels will include, wherever possible, persons with special training in harassment.

g)  The University will treat as confidential all records concerning allegations or complaints of harassment. Cases of alleged harassment which are taken forward into the University's formal grievance and disciplinary procedures will be investigated impartially by the University. This will ensure that the alleged harasser has the opportunity to be represented and to be given a clear account of the allegation so that they may state their case.

h) When formal disciplinary procedures have been carried out, student and staff complainants will be advised of the outcome: if proven, without giving details of the sanction imposed, but indicating that the behaviour did constitute harassment/bullying according to the university policy and was unacceptable. If not proven, the complainant will also be informed.

i) The possibility that complaints might be brought with mischievous or malicious intent is also recognised by the University and may provide grounds for disciplinary action against individuals up to and including dismissal or expulsion from the University and its disciplinary rules reflect this view.

j) Unless there has been notification of a situation involving harassment the University may not be able to take steps to prevent or eliminate harassment; it is therefore important that the University authorities are kept informed of any potential complaint.

Guidelines for Members of Staff

If you feel that you are being subjected to harassment in any form, do not feel that it is your fault or that you have to tolerate it. This is what you can do:-

a)  You are strongly advised to contact any of the people named on the list at the end of this document - all of whom are willing to discuss incidents or problems however large or small they may seem. Any of these people could advise you on a course of action or take the matter up on your behalf. Any discussion will be confidential and further action involving you will not normally be taken without your express permission. The use of informal channels may mean that no further action may be necessary.

b)  If at all possible you should make it clear to the person causing the offence that such behaviour on that person's part is unacceptable to you. This may in some instances be sufficient to stop it.

c)  It is important to note that the possibility of counter-accusation or recrimination exists. Given that this is so, it may be wise to alert someone else to your problem before you approach the person concerned.

d)  If you feel unable to speak to the person concerned or having spoken the behaviour persists or resumes, keep a note of the details including the names of witnesses, and of any relevant incidents which distress you, including a note of the ways in which the incidents cause you to change the pattern of your work or social life. It would be wise to make it clear that the individual's behaviour is unwanted, but if you feel unable to tackle the person concerned this does not constitute consent to the harassment nor will it prejudice any complaint you may bring.

e)  At any time you may seek a confidential meeting with a HR Officer. If you wish, you may be accompanied at such an interview by a sympathetic colleague or trade union representative. Following such an interview further action involving you will not normally take place without your express permission; in particular the person about whom you are complaining will not be given your name as a complainant without your express permission.

f)  You could seek the help or advice of a trusted friend, sympathetic colleague or trade union representative.

If the harassment continues (or is of a more serious nature than can be dealt with by means of the above) then you are advised to seek a confidential interview with a harassment adviser. (See the end of this document for contact details.) The harassment adviser may recommend a confidential interview with your supervisor, head of department, Dean of Faculty, Head of School or other member of management. You may wish to be accompanied at such an interview by a friend, a colleague or trade union representative and this wish will be respected. The purpose of the interview will be to discuss the nature of the problem and to establish a course of action.

At this stage you may wish to make a formal complaint under the grievance procedure which may result in disciplinary action against the harasser.

Guidelines for Students

If you feel that you are being subjected to harassment in any form, do not feel that it is your fault or that you have to tolerate it. This is what you can do:-

a)  You are strongly advised to contact any of the people named on the list at the end of this document - all of whom are willing to discuss incidents or problems however large or small they may seem. Any of these people could advise you on a course of action or take the matter up on your behalf. Any discussion will be confidential and further action involving you will not normally be taken without your express permission. The use of informal channels may mean that no further action is necessary.

b)  If at all possible you should make it clear to the person causing the offence that such behaviour on that person's part is unacceptable to you. This may in some instances be sufficient to stop it.

c)  It is important to note that the possibility of counter-accusation or recrimination exists. Given that this is so, it may be wise to alert someone else to your problem before you approach the person concerned.

d)  If you feel unable to speak to the person concerned and having spoken the behaviour persists or resumes, keep a note of the details including the names of witnesses, and of any relevant incidents which distress you, including a note of the ways in which the incidents cause you to change the pattern of your work or social life. It would be wise to make it clear that the individual's behaviour is unwanted, but if you feel unable to tackle the person concerned this does not constitute consent to the harassment nor will it prejudice any complaint you may bring.

e)  At any time you may seek a confidential meeting with a University Dean or Deputy Dean. If you wish, you may be accompanied at such an interview by a sympathetic tutor or student union representative. Following such an interview further action involving you will not normally take place without your express permission; in particular the person about whom you are complaining will not be given your name as a complainant without your express permission.

f)  You could seek the help or advice of a trusted friend, sympathetic tutor or student union representative.

If the harassment continues (or is of a more serious nature than can be dealt with by means of the above) then you are advised to seek a confidential interview with a harassment adviser. The harassment adviser may recommend a confidential interview with your supervisor, head of department, Dean of Faculty, Head of School or other member of management. You may wish to be accompanied at such an interview by a friend, a sympathetic tutor or student union representative and this wish will be respected. The purpose of the interview will be to discuss the nature of the problem and to establish a course of action.

At this stage you may wish to make a formal complaint under the complaints procedure which may result in disciplinary action against the harasser.

Cases of Physical Assault of Staff or Students

If you have been attacked or raped, seek help immediately. You should report the attack or rape to the police since such acts are crimes. Any one of the suggested contacts named in the guidelines or on the list below will willingly give you support. You will be advised on what you can do but you have the choice. However for your own protection and for the protection of others it is important that the offender is dealt with appropriately.

If you have been sexually assaulted or raped you are strongly advised to seek medical help and advice immediately. Information on locally available advice and help for females and males who are the victims of sexual assault or rape is provided on the attached list.

This webpage was originated in 1997 and was updated in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007

SOURCES OF HELP

1.  Harassment Network Members. The network's leaflet and posters are also widely available in colleges and departments.

2.  College/Personal Tutor - contact your College Secretary for details if necessary

3.  Deputy University Dean - Andrew Lucas ISS, Extension 10174

4.  University Dean - Reuben Edwards, Extension 10392

5.  Students Union:

Nightline - a telephone listening service run by trained students, open between 10pm and 8am, Extension 94444

Cat Smith, Womens Officer, Extension 92197 or email su-womens@lancaster.ac.uk
Jennifer Daffin, LGBT Officer, Contact via LUSU Womens Officer Extension 92197
Becky Heard, Education & Welfare Officer, Extension 92202 or email edandwelf@lancaster.ac.uk Christine Jones, Student Adviser, Extension 93769 or email c.jones@lancaster.ac.uk

6.  Medical Advice: Contact the Nurse Unit, Extension 94737 or email nurse.unit@lancaster.ac.uk (emails will be answered within 24 hours during term time); or your GP(If you are registered there, at the Bailrigg Medical Centre - Tel. Ext 94130 or 01524 387780)

7.  University Counselling Service: Enquiries and appointments, Extension 92690

8.  Trade Union Representatives:

      AMICUS - Haydn Morris Extension 93466 or email
      TGWU - George Ramshaw Extension 92114
      UCU - See UCU Website
      AEEU Eamon McLaughlin Extension 9213

Other Organisations

LUSU Nightline: Extension 94444

Samaritans Tel: 08457 909090, Email: jo@samaritans.org or see this website:
http://www.samaritans.org.uk/talk/anon_mail.shtm for advice on emailing anonymously.

Rape/Sexual Assault Support Services:
- Sexual Assault and Forensic Evidence Centre (SAFE) at Royal Preston Hospital: 01772 523344 (allows for anonymity)
- St.Leonardsgate Centre, Lancaster Lancaster 68743 (anonymity not guaranteed)
- Advice also available from the University Nurse Unit (details above)

Preston and West Lancashire Racial Equality Council: Tel: 01772 254868

Stonewall (Lesbian and gay national campaigning group): Tel: 020 7881 9440, Email: info@stonewall.org.uk

LAGER (Lesbian and Gay Employment Rights) Tel: 020 7704 8066 (for women), 020 7704 6066 (for men)

Lancaster University
Bailrigg
LancasterLA1 4YW United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1524 65201