Bullying: Bullying is unacceptable and unwanted behaviour, usually repeated over time, which causes a person to feel offended, intimidated, fearful or humiliated and that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  Power imbalances could be social or group power, power due to role, physical strength, or access to embarrassing information.

Harassment: Harassment is when someone engages in unwanted conduct, which intentionally or unintentionally violates a person’s dignity or creates a hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.  

Protected Characteristics under the Equality Act 2010

Harassment on any of the following grounds, also referred to as protected characteristics in some legislation, is unlawful.  The Open University has broadened these to include: age, caring for dependants, disability, experience of being in care, gender reassignment (including gender, gender expression, gender identity), marital or civil partnership status, membership of the Traveller community, political opinion, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, trades union membership status, and type of employment contract, such as part-time or fixed-term (for Open University employees only). We believe that harassment is unacceptable, even if it does not fall within any of these categories.  


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