The College wishes it to be clear that any form of harassment by or of its senior members, junior members, students or staff is incompatible with its proper functioning and may be against the law. Every effort will be made to ensure that any such problems are dealt with quickly and effectively. This policy must be read in conjunction with the Student Complaint Policy and Disciplinary Procedures of non-academic nature.
Definition of Harassment
Harassment and bullying may be defined as any form of unwelcome behaviour that affects a person’s dignity. It’s the conduct of one person against another or others when an intimidating, hostile or offensive atmosphere is created for the complainant(s). Harassment is defined as per the Equality Act 2010 as being:
“…unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.”
Harassment may be a single act or persistent behaviour and will amount to unlawful discrimination if it relates to one of the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act:
- Gender reassignment
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage/Civil partnership
LSME also finds harassment relating to caring responsibilities, gender identity and working status (i.e. working part-time) unacceptable. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 also makes harassment potentially a criminal offence and gives the harassed party the right to legal redress. Behaviours that constitutes types of harassment covered by this law.
Sexual harassment is defined as the less favourable treatment of an employee or student because s/he submits to or rejects sexual harassment related to sex or gender reassignment. Incitement to such behaviour is also harassment and it may occur without any offence being intended. This harassment is aggravated if it involves the abuse of a position of responsibility or trust.
Verbal abuse – including verbal threats, derogatory name-calling, insults, ridicule or belittling of another person:
- Physical assault or threat of violence or intrusive behaviour and invasion of personal space.
- pestering, spying or stalking or making persistent, unwelcome contact – including sending text messages, emails, gifts and making unnecessary phone calls.
- Excluding someone from a normal conversation in the work environment or from social events or deliberately undermining someone by spreading malicious lies, making insulting comments or bringing a vindictive allegation of unacceptable behaviour as well as displaying or circulating abusive or offensive materials on paper or electronically all constitute harassment.
- Harassment also includes sending offensive text messages, using humour to put another person or group of people down e.g. telling jokes that are sexist, racist or about an individual’s sexual orientation.
At LSME we discourage any form of behaviour that embarrasses a person’s cultural, race or sexual characteristics (including sexual orientation) that are unwanted by the recipient, or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, is not tolerated.
Definition of Bullying
According to the Advisory, Conciliation and Advice Service (ACAS), Bullying is defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting behaviour and/or an abuse or misuse of power that undermines, humiliates or denigrates. This type of behaviour can be seen in those in senior positions abusing their authority as well as those in junior positions behaving poorly towards other people.
Examples of behaviour which is likely to constitute bullying are:
- Psychological intimidation, humiliation, excessive and/or unreasonable criticism or fault-finding of any colleague, peer or student.
- Asserting a position of superiority in an aggressive, abusive or offensive manner, including via electronic media.
- Preventing access to resources.
- Unfair allocation of work and responsibilities or setting unreasonable goals or targets in work.
- Abuse of power or behaviour that causes fear or distress for others.
- Acting unreasonably by failing and refusing to listen, reflect and take appropriate account of the position or needs of other.
- Treating staff and students in an unprofessional manner, or refusing to follow agreed and fair procedures.
Online behaviour is considered equivalent to face-to-face behaviour. Employees and students must not engage in any conduct online that would not be acceptable in the workplace or that is unlawful. For example, making derogatory remarks, bullying, intimidating or harassing other users, using insults or posting content that is hateful, slanderous, threatening, discriminatory or pornographic. This includes conduct that impacts on work using social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook). The ICT Acceptable Use Policy provides further guidance.
Bullying and harassment are unfair and LSME regards them as unacceptable. The behaviours mentioned may constitute bullying and harassment even if the intention of the person whose behaviour is in question is good.
Fair management allows managers and lecturers to give fair and constructive feedback and set achievable targets, as well as standards of behaviour in relation to work requirement and teaching and learning respectively. One to one meetings with students and staff appraisals should be fair and should contain a balance of good practice and areas for improvement. This should be done fairly and constructively. A differing view or opinion to that of the line manager or lecturer will not necessarily constitute bullying and harassment unless the concerns raised are dealt with unfairly.
Freedom of speech and academic freedom is protected by law. An academic debate will not in itself constitute harassment. The debate should be conducted respectfully and without creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, offensive or humiliating environment for others.
Victimisation is defined as occurring when an employee is treated unfairly because they have made or supported a complaint or raised a complaint under the Equality Act or have indicated their intention to do so.
Staff and students are protected from victimisation under the Equality Act 2010. Victimisation can be described as subjecting an employee to unfavourable treatment because in good faith they have:
- Taken out court proceedings under the Equality Act, other similar legislation or they have indicated their intention to do so.
- Given evidence or information in connection with the proceedings.
- Participated in an investigation of a complaint, or participated in any disciplinary hearing arising from an investigation.
- Made an allegation that a person has harassed or unlawfully discriminated against them.
Actions to be taken
Staff or student who feels they have become the object of harassment may seek personal support from friends, tutors, Programme Leader, Welfare Officer, Principal, members of the student representatives or anyone else they know. They should not feel that their own behaviour in any respect excuses the harassment; nor should they hesitate to act on a single instance, as early action often minimises the long-term harmful effects.
If they feel able to do so, they may raise the matter directly with the person whose behaviour is causing offence, pointing out what is unwelcome in their behaviour and asking them to stop; they should not feel obliged to do this, however, nor will they be thought to have consented to the behaviour by not doing so.
In any case, they may make a complaint about the harassment to either of two people nominated by the management team (one of whom shall normally be the Senior lecturer / Programme Leader and who shall be of different sexes), who will then investigate the complaint in whatever way she or he considers appropriate using the existing Complaint Policy and Procedure. If it proves impossible to resolve the complaint informally, further action will be taken as follows. A complaint against a member of staff will be dealt with under the terms of employment and Staff Disciplinary Procedures applicable. A complaint against a student will be dealt with under the College’s statutory disciplinary procedures, probably involving referral to the Attendance and Disciplinary Committee. A complaint against a senior member of the College will be referred to the Executive Director and dealt with under statutory provisions. While the College cannot act directly against someone with no connection with the College, representations will be made to the relevant employer or college where possible, and the complainant will be supported in any complaint they would like to make to the police. An alleged offence of a criminal nature (e.g. incitement to racial hatred, or indecent assault) will be dealt with under the law of the land.
In all cases, the complainant will be informed of the outcome. If the complainant is a student and is not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint they may wish to contact an independent advisor such as the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for further investigation after a Completion of Procedure document has been issued. Staff who are not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint may wish to seek further advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (www.equalityhumanrights.com), Employee Assistance Professional Association (EAPA) Information on Employee Assistance Programmes (www.eapa.org.uk) or Acas Helpline For confidential and impartial advice on employment-related issues.
Next Review Date: October 2021