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.
- 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.