Harassment and Bullying

GCU is committed to providing a culture and environment which is inclusive of all sections of society and responsive to the needs of individuals.


Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient, (according to ACAS).

Some examples of such behaviour may include:

  • Exclusion or victimisation
  • Insults, jokes, banter or display of offensive material related to a protected characteristic
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • Deliberate undermining someone by overloading them, or giving constant criticism
  • Preventing someone from progressing by intentionally blocking development or promotion opportunities
  • Verbal or physical intimidation

Bullying can happen face to face and also through telephone, emails, and the internet and social media.


The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as: “Unwanted conduct related to a 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.”

The protected characteristics relevant to harassment are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Race
  • Religion or belief (including lack of belief)
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

(NB: Marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity are the other protected characteristics but they do not apply to harassment.)

Harassment can happen face to face and also through telephone, emails, and the internet and social media.

Perceived or Associated Harassment

People are also protected from harassment if they are perceived to have, or associate with someone with, a protected characteristic.  For example if a male employee is harassed because he is perceived to be gay, but he is not, he is still protected from harassment.  Similarly, if a female member of staff is harassed because her partner is disabled, she still has protection from harassment.

Sexual Harassment and Gender Based Violence

Additionally, the Equality Act specifies that sexual harassment is: unwanted conduct of a sexual nature where this has the same purpose or effect (as described in the above definition); and treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment.

GCU recognises that gender based violence is a problem within society, which is being tackled by organisations across the UK. We are committed to preventing gender based and sexual violence, and we seek to provide a consistent, caring, and timely response when any member of our University community is affected by such violence. Our Gender Based Violence Policy supports this commitment.

Our team of First Responders have been trained in supporting and advising survivors of gender based and sexual violence.

Further information on support services at the University and through external organisations is available on our Student Wellbeing pages.

Our Dignity at Work and Study Policy outlines our commitment to having an inclusive and supportive environment.

Staff and student responsibilities

All staff and students have a responsibility to support dignity at work and study by behaving in ways which do not discriminate. As part of this commitment, all staff and students should be prepared to challenge inappropriate behaviour and/or take action if they observe or have evidence of discrimination or harassment.

Glasgow Caledonian University’s primary formal procedures for addressing alleged incidents of discrimination, including harassment, are:

Staff Conflict and Complaints Resolution Policy (for staff)

Complaints Handling Procedure (for students)

Outside of the formal mechanisms, staff and students are free to speak to a range of sources of information if they feel that they are not getting treated with dignity at work or study (e.g. they are experiencing discrimination or harassment) – including colleagues, managers, Heads of Department, Programme Leader, Student Services, People Services (caseworkers, Equality and Diversity Advisor), Glasgow Caledonian University Students’ Association (Advice Centre), Trade Unions, Employee Assistance Programme – this list is not exhaustive and the most appropriate people to engage depends on each individual situation.