Microaggressions are brief, everyday interactions that send denigrating messages to people, which are subtle and insidious, often leaving the victim confused, distressed and frustrated and the perpetrator oblivious of the offense they have caused. Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional.  
Microaggressions is not a legal term and such behaviour will not necessarily amount to harassment under the Equality Act (2010).  This will depend on the facts of each case.  As the definition of microaggressions suggests, the perpetrator of the microaggression may not have any harassing intent.   Therefore, whether their behaviour amounts to harassment is likely to depend on the effect it had on the victim.  However, microaggressions that do not meet the Equality Act (2010) definition of harassment could lead to behaviour which does meet the definition through repetition or escalation of the behaviour. 

Intent is not the same as impact, and a throw-away comment or joke can have a huge impact on another person. It is everyone’s responsibility to think about the impact that their words might have on someone else.  

Examples of microaggressions include: 
  • Backhanded compliments 
  • Avoiding or turning one's back on certain people 
  • Being misgendered (especially after sharing one’s pronouns) 
  • Asking someone “Where are you really from?”. 
  • Referring to a professional woman as a ‘girl’. 
  • Asking a black person if that is their ‘natural’ hair.   
  • Catcalling or sexual objectification. 
  • Assuming intellectual inferiority based on race. 
  • Endorsing religious stereotypes. 
  • Casual use of derogatory slurs. 



There are two ways you can tell us what happened