Harassment Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Harassment, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Harassment?

(n) Harassment is the systematic and preplanned inflicting difficulties and hardships to a person or group of person, by resorting unfair activities like threats, estoppels, influences etc with an intention to cause trouble.

History and Meaning of Harassment

Harassment is a term that was first used in the 1610s for actions that caused trouble and annoyance to others. Over time, the meaning of the term evolved to encompass behavior that is intended to cause distress, injury, or harm to a person or group of people. In the legal context, harassment is a form of discrimination that is prohibited by law. It can take many different forms, including verbal abuse, physical assault, and sexual harassment.

Examples of Harassment

Here are a few examples of how the term harassment might be used in different contexts:

  1. Workplace Harassment: An employee is repeatedly targeted with offensive jokes, insults, and exclusionary behavior by a co-worker or manager.

  2. Cyberbullying: A teenager receives threatening messages and posts on social media from a group of peers over a period of several months.

  3. Stalking: A person repeatedly shows up unexpectedly at another person's home, place of work, or other locations, despite being asked to stop.

Legal Terms Similar to Harassment

Here are a few related legal terms that are similar to harassment:

  1. Discrimination: Unfair or unequal treatment of an individual or group based on characteristics such as race, gender, or religion.

  2. Intimidation: Threatening or coercive behavior that is intended to make someone feel afraid or powerless.

  3. Bullying: Repeated, aggressive behavior intended to harm or intimidate someone perceived as weaker or vulnerable.