Bullying doesn’t just happen in the playground. Many people are bullied, harassed and humiliated in the workplace. If this is happening to you, speak to us today to get the support and advice you need.
You’ve the right to be treated fairly and decently in the workplace. If you’re being bullied or harassed – whether subtly or openly – the law is on your side when you decide to take a stand. Your employer has a duty to provide you a safe workplace, free from bullying and harassment.
In the first instance, we can advise you on the first steps you can take to help stop unfair treatment at work. If however, if you continue to be bullied or discriminated against by groups or individuals in the workplace, we’re also here to help you seek legal solutions including taking your employer to an Employment Tribunal for breaching their duty of care towards you and or taking a personal injury case on your behalf.
We discuss some of the things you can do about workplace harassment below. If you need to talk to a friendly and experienced employment solicitor right away, we strongly recommend you contact us.
While many people consider a certain amount of ‘banter’ at work to be reasonable, the fact is that it’s all too common for banter to cross the line between being ‘a bit of fun’ and turning into unpleasant bullying. Examples of bullying in the workplace can include:
In addition to these common but unpleasant forms of bullying, many people experience harassment in the workplace. The definition of bullying: “Unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.
These protected characteristics mean that the Act covers bullying with regard to:
Importantly, discriminatory jokes or comments about any of these protected characteristics don’t have to be directed towards you in order to constitute harassment. If they’re made in your earshot, even accidentally, they can potentially still count as harassment.
If your employer has a policy in place dealing with harassment and bullying, you should follow the steps set out in that policy. If you feel that it’s safe for you to do so, you may wish to begin by speaking to whoever is bullying or harassing you directly; perhaps in the presence of a friendly colleague who can help to prevent the discussion turning into another instance of bullying and who can bear witness to the fact that this conversation took place.
In some cases, colleagues who’ve been bullying or harassing you may not realise the extent to which you’ve been upset and may apologise and agree not to repeat their behaviour. In any case, having a note of this meeting is a useful first step towards resolving the problem.
Should the person refuse to acknowledge or amend their behaviour, your next step is to speak to someone in authority. Your line manager will usually be the right person to take this up with, unless of course they’re involved in bullying you. In this case, you may need to speak to their superior, or Human Resources.
Once you’ve made an official complaint about harassment or bullying, your employer is obliged to take action: investigate your complaint and make sure that where bullying or harassment is taking place that they take every reasonable step to make it stop.
If your employer is unwilling or unable to stop the bullying or harassment, it may then be time seek harassment legal advice and take legal action.
If your employer has failed to take action to prevent you being bullied or harassed in the workplace, you should speak to an experienced employment solicitor as soon as possible.
Where you decide to proceed with an employment tribunal claim for bullying or harassment in the workplace, the first stage is to inform the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), who will offer early conciliation in an attempt to resolve the issue. Where this hasn’t been successful after another month, ACAS will give you a certificate to state that the mandatory period of conciliation has ended, and you can take your claim to an employment tribunal.
We have solicitors specialising in harassment who are here to help. We’re here to support and guide you throughout this process, and can also advise you on seeking damages in the Circuit Court for damage to your mental or physical health, as well on seeking redress at an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal, should you feel unable to keep working in the same abusive environment any longer.
To speak to a sympathetic and experienced employment solicitor for workplace harassment legal advice, contact us.
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