At Lancaster, we promote a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct. It reflects an approach in which the University will proactively work to educate and inform, as well as taking all accusations seriously and acting on them appropriately without preconception or bias. Our policies on bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct aim to assist in the promotion of an inclusive and constructive environment on campus, as well as in external relationships connected with the University, in which bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct are recognised as unacceptable. It is also designed to give individuals the confidence to complain in the knowledge that their complaints will be taken seriously and due process followed in resolving the matter.
What do we mean by bullying and harassment?
Bullying or harassment is behaviour or actions that are unwelcome, unwarranted and cause a detrimental effect to the wellbeing of the victim. Harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct can also apply to a group of people as well as individuals.
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour and abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, upset, threaten, denigrate or injure the recipient and can make a person feel vulnerable. This can be either physical or psychological in nature.
Some examples of bullying include (but are not limited to):
- Shouting at someone or being sarcastic against someone because of one or more protected characteristics (e.g. mocking someone in relation to their disability; shouting a racial and/or homophobic or transphobic slur).
- Physical or psychological threats.
- ‘Calling names’ at someone because of a protected characteristic (e.g. because of their age, or for they are disabled, or because they are gay, lesbian, bi or trans, racist name-calling).
- Spreading malicious rumours or insulting someone particularly on grounds of protected characteristics.
- Systematic exclusion of colleagues from work meetings because of their characteristics (e.g. excluding colleagues belonging to an ethnic minority, or with a disability, or because of their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, or if they have or are perceived to have more than one of these characteristics).
Harassment, as an element of bullying, is specifically defined under the Equality Act 2010. as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect, assessed from the individual’s perspective, of violating dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or humiliating environment for that individual. It can include unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct.
Some examples of harassment include (but are not limited to):
- Unwanted physical conduct
- Racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes
- Derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender;
- Outing or threatening to out someone as lesbian, gay, bi, trans or non-binary.
- Mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability or physical appearance.
- Unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour.
- Offensive e-mails, text messages or social media content.
Sexual misconduct is a broad term used to encompass a range of behaviours including sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact (sexual assault), and non-consensual sexual penetration (rape).
Victimisation is when a person is mistreated because they have made a complaint of discrimination, harassment or bullying or have supported another person in making a complaint.
Further details on the definitions are available in our policies:
Reporting and Support for Staff
If you feel that you have experienced bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct, a range of options are available to you, including:
- Report anonymously
- Raise it with the individual
- Seek informal or formal advice from your trade union representative
- Request a mediation meeting
- Initiate a formal complaint
Further details are set out in our Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy (see link above) - Staff (internal only).
Reporting and Support for Students
If you feel you have experienced or witnessed behaviours such as abuse, bullying, discrimination, harassment, hate crime, racism, sexual harassment or violence, we urge you to report this to the University, Lancaster University Students’ Union and/or the Police.
For more information on how to report an incident please visit the Bullying, Harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct page.