Bullying And Harassment At Work
Recent studies have suggested that almost a third of workers in the UK have suffered bullying and harassment at work. This is a staggering amount, but from the experiences of our clients at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, we suspect this could still be an underestimate. We frequently receive enquiries from employees who have been subjected to bullying and harassment at work. We always hope the information on our website is helpful to them, but we are aware that the best assistance is to discuss your problem with a fully qualified employment solicitor. If you would like a free consultation with one of the team at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, please use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01522 440512 and we’ll be happy to help
Bullying At Work?
Whilst there is no statutory definition of bullying, ACAS defines workplace bullying as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious, or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, degrade or injure the person being bullied’. Bullying at work can take many forms. Recent examples our clients have described to us include:
Micro management and excessive supervision.
Constant criticism, often in front of colleagues.
Promotions and training opportunities being refused.
Exclusion from social activities connected to work; including lunches, drinks, birthday celebrations etc.
Unmanageable workloads with conflicting management instructions and unreasonable deadlines.
Threats or comments about job security.
Harassment At Work?
Harassment is a slightly different concept and does have a legal definition within the Equality Act 2010. This legislation protects people who have a relevant protected characteristic (being age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation) from being harassed. The legislation defines harassment as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that employee.
Recent clients have provided examples of harassment which include:
Unwanted sexual advances including the invasion of personal space, frequent touching, manipulating circumstances where the employee is put in close proximity with their harasser (the ‘coincidental’ being in the photocopier room at the same time).
The suggestion to colleagues and third parties that a sexual relationship exists with the employee.
Frequent homophobic comments and jokes.
References to an employee’s disability and personal medical information in front of colleagues.
What Should You Do?
If at all possible, you should try and resolve the situation informally. Discussing your concerns with a Line Manager or HR representative might be all that is needed to put an end to the bullying and harassment.
Unfortunately, employers are often aware of the employees who are the cause of bullying and harassment. Others may have made similar complaints and you should ask your employer if there have been issues in the past with the person responsible.
If the situation cannot be resolved informally, then you will need to consider lodging a formal grievance. You should use your employer’s grievance policy which should set out in detail how the matter will move forward. For most polices of this nature, the employer will hold a meeting with you and undertake some investigation into your complaints. Depending on the nature of your concerns, they may even decide to initiate disciplinary action against those responsible. More information is available on our blog lincslaw.co.uk/blog/need-to-send-a-grievance-or-complaint-to-your-employer/
If your grievances are not upheld, then you should appeal. In serious circumstances, you might even consider resigning your contract of employment and bringing an Employment Tribunal claim.
Constructive Dismissal Employment Tribunal Claim
If the bullying at work (and your employer’s response to your formal grievance) has resulted in you having lost all trust and confidence, then it might be possible for you to resign and claim constructive dismissal. This would be on the basis that your employer has fundamentally breached your contract of employment and made your ongoing position untenable. For more information, please see our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/resignation-dismissal-and-redundancy/resignation-and-constructive-dismissal/
If you have experienced harassment which is related to a protected characteristic you have (see above), you could bring a claim under the Equality Act 2010. In addition, if you decided to resign, you may also have an additional claim for constructive dismissal.
You need to be very aware of time limits. You will need to take formal action by way of initiating the ACAS Early Conciliation Procedure within three months less one day from the act or event you are claiming about. The time you will have to submit you Employment Tribunal Claim will be dependent upon the dates of your ACAS Early Conciliation.
Let Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You
If you are suffering bullying and harassment at work and would like free consultation with one of the team at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors, please use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email email@example.com or call us on 01522 440512 and we’ll be happy to help
Please get in touch, we want to help you, just as we helped the clients below who kindly left the following reviews
Review from Bullying and Harassment client for Sally Hubbard, Managing Director, Specialist Employment Solicitor
“Sally listened to my situation and gave really valuable advice. She made me feel like I had taken back some control over the situation and fought my corner, which made me feel better. Sally kept me up to date with the situation regularly, which helped lessen my anxiety, and explained all the options thoroughly so I could make an informed decision at each stage. She was approachable and supportive all the way through to a positive conclusion.
I am not sure there is anything else Sally could have done better. The situation was a difficult one for me, but she provided good advice and support and was really understanding all the way through, which helped me feel much better about things at a difficult time”.
Review from Bullying and Harassment client for Lucy Stones, Associate, Specialist Employment Solicitor
“I felt like I was being treated unfairly by my employer. Lucy took time to take the whole background to the circumstances from me and then discussed my options. She gave me really comprehensive options moving forward and it was very clear. She was fantastic.”