When does supervision become harassment?

The recent case of Saha v Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine gives some helpful pointers on when emails and actions of a supervisor towards a research student might constitute harassment. It is relevant to all education institutions, particularly universities and colleges.

Harassment is an offence under the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 (the Act), and a person claiming to have suffered harassment can bring a claim in the civil court for damages. So it is not something to be taken lightly: in this case, Saha was claiming damages in excess of £1.5m.

Harassment is defined in the Act as: a course of conduct on at least two occasions by a person which amounts to harassment (including alarming the other person or causing them distress) and which the first person knows amounts to harassment, or ought to know amounts to harassment, in that a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other…

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