The phrase ‘children can be so mean‘ is commonly referred to when young people are navigating their way through school. It is believed, as ‘bullies’ grow older their behaviour improves and the days of causing someone to feel ‘left out’ or ‘bullied’ simply go away. Sadly, however, this does not always tend to be the case. In the UK alone it is believed that around 25% of employees have felt left out or bullied at work and that statistic is staggering.
Over the years, I have advised numerous individuals who are experiencing bullying and harassment at work. Understandably, if you are experiencing bullying at work it can have a huge impact on you and intrude into your personal life. How then can you protect yourself at work, and respond in a way that will bring your ordeal to an end?
What Can You Do If You Are Experiencing A Form Of Bullying At Work?
It is OK to be fearful of raising your concerns to your employer. However, the reality can be that if you do not report your concerns the issue can escalate and before you know where you are, you find yourself in a position which you feel is untenable. I would therefore always advise you to raise your concerns formally and make sure you do so before the situation goes too far. The benefit to you is that the sooner you report your concerns, the best chance we have of strengthening your position.
Where Should You Start?
It is normal for individuals not to immediately realise they are being treated differently or bullied. It may be that you first ignore the signs but gradually become aware of them. At this stage, I would recommend that you make regular diary entries so that you can keep a log of what has happened, when it happened and how it made you feel. It is surprising at how easy it is to forget specific incidents or dates. Thereafter, I would advise you to submit a Formal Grievance. Your employer may have a Formal Grievance procedure already, but if not a reasonable employer should adhere to the ACAS Code on Disciplinaries and Grievances 2009, which sets out a number of steps;-
- You submit your concerns in writing.
- The employer investigates those concerns.
- You attend a meeting to discuss your concerns.
- You receive the outcome.
- You are offered the right to appeal against the outcome.
Are You Being Harassed?
It is common for individuals to refer to their bullying as a form of harassment. However, harassment has a different definition. Bullying does hold a legal definition within the Equality Act 2010 but harassment does. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection to people who have a protected characteristic such as their age, disability, race, religion or belief, sex etc and harassment is defined as being unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity. If you believe that the treatment you are receiving is because of a protected characteristic, then a claim for harassment may be available to you. You can bring a claim whilst still in employment by starting Early Claim Conciliation with ACAS. This initial step is free and does not mean you have to proceed to the Employment Tribunal.
Constructive Unfair Dismissal
A straightforward Constructive Unfair Dismissal is available to employees’ who have over two years’ continuous employment. In order to be eligible to pursue this claim you must resign from your employment and I would strongly advise all individuals to obtain expert legal advice before you decide to resign from your employment. These claims can be tricky as you will need to successfully show the Employment Tribunal two key elements. The first key element is that a fundamental breach of contract has taken place. A fundamental breach can be a breach of the implied term of mutual trust of confidence and it can follow a one-off isolated incident, or a series of smaller incidents which when stacked up together effectively represent the straw which broke the camels back. The second key element is that you have reacted quickly and you have not been seen to have affirmed your employers behaviour. More information on a claim for Constructive Unfair Dismissal can be found here; https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/resignation-dismissal-and-redundancy/resignation-and-constructive-dismissal/
Should You Obtain Legal Advice?
I would recommend you obtain expert legal advice as soon as possible. This will ensure you are fully aware of all of your options and you can also receive expert legal advice along the way which will not only alleviate some of the pressure from you, but it should also help you in feeling more confident that the way you are being treated is unacceptable.
If you are being bullied at work, just call 01522 440512 for a no obligation, free consultation to discuss your matter.
Associate Employment Law Solicitor