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Does the following definition of harassment have any legal basis?

The gym’s dignity and inclusion policy states:

“Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination. It is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which includes sex, gender reassignment (or transgender status), race (which includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity and age. This unwanted conduct either has the purpose of, or is reasonably considered by the person on the receiving end to have the effect of violating their dignity or otherwise creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

Is this definition consistent with the legal definition of harassment, and what is the basis in law?

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  • I don't normally like editing other's work, but the wording confused me, although not enough to prevent me from discerning what I think you were asking. Please let me know if you think my edits are useful... Jul 14, 2023 at 21:42
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    Useful indeed, in my mind they unequivocally improve the post. Jul 14, 2023 at 22:41

2 Answers 2

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Almost. Under section 26 Equity Act 2010, the offence of harassment does not include discrimination based on "marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity":

Harassment

(1)A person (A) harasses another (B) if—

  • (a)A engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, and

  • (b)the conduct has the purpose or effect of—

(i)violating B's dignity, or

(ii)creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.

(2)A also harasses B if—

  • (a)A engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, and

  • (b)the conduct has the purpose or effect referred to in subsection (1)(b).

(3)A also harasses B if—

  • (a)A or another person engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or that is related to gender reassignment or sex,

  • (b)the conduct has the purpose or effect referred to in subsection (1)(b), and

  • (c)because of B's rejection of or submission to the conduct, A treats B less favourably than A would treat B if B had not rejected or submitted to the conduct.

(4)In deciding whether conduct has the effect referred to in subsection (1)(b), each of the following must be taken into account—

  • (a)the perception of B;

  • (b)the other circumstances of the case;

  • (c)whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have that effect.

(5)The relevant protected characteristics are—

age;

disability;

gender reassignment;

race;

religion or belief;

sex;

sexual orientation.

However...

There is also the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which, at section 1 and section 2 creates the offence without a requirement to show any discrimination based on protected characteristics.

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Harassment is a form of discrimination prohibited by the B.C. Human Rights Code. See British Columbia, "Human Rights in British Columbia: What You Need to Know":

Harassment is a form of discrimination. It can be words or actions that ofend or humiliate you. It is harassment when someone repeatedly says or does things to you that are insulting and offensive. The Code protects you when harassment is based on a protected characteristic listed under “How am I protected”. There are many types of harassment.

See also Oger v. Whatcott (No. 7), 2019 BCHRT 58, para. 52 (citations omitted):

speech which adversely impacts a person in connection with a characteri[s]tic protected by the Code is prohibited in all the social areas which the Code regulates. Sexual and racial harassment are the most obvious examples of this. Whenever people use words in a way that substantively attacks and undermines a person's dignity in connection with their work, housing, or access to public services, because of personal characteristics protected by the Code, they run afoul of human rights law.

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