Bullying in the Workplace: The Concise Guide

If you've been subjected to bullying, sexual harassment or victimisation in the workplace, it's important to understand there are steps you can take to fight back.

In the first instance, however, you should have a clear understanding of the how you're covered under the law by reading our brief guide to some of the most common problems in the workplace.

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying and harassment are characterised by behaviour that makes you feel intimidated and offended.

Bullying and harassment can occur face-to-face and via letter, email or phone. Some examples of bullying or harassing behaviour include:

  • Spiteful rumour spreading.
  • Picking on someone.
  • Undermining a proficient worker.
  • Denying training or advancement opportunities.

Although there is no specific UK employment law legislation covering bullying, harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010, with unwanted behaviour related to:

  • Age.
  • Sex.
  • Disability.
  • Gender.
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Race.
  • Religion or belief.
  • Sexual orientation.

Of course, it's no secret that bullying in the workplace has the potential to cause alarm and distress, which is why your employer has a duty of care to ensure your safety and protection.

Importantly, given that there's no legislation directly related to workplace bulling, a claim can – depending on the circumstances – be pursued through a lawyer using discrimination legislation.

However, if discrimination is not part of the bullying, a claim could be made under the Protection from Harassment Act – but this claim can only be made in the courts, which puts you at risk of paying your employer's costs if you lose the case.

If you feel you're being bullied in the workplace, you should attempt to speak to your manager, human resources department or trade union rep in the first instance.

Alternatively, if you'd like expert advice from the employment law specialists, please get in touch with us – we'd be happy to help.

Sexual Harassment

Regardless of where it takes place, sexual harassment is unlawful.

However, when it occurs in the workplace, getting to the root of the problem and dealing with the offender(s) can be challenging for employers.

If you're a victim of sexual harassment, it goes without saying that the associated humiliation and despair can combine to make your workplace a decidedly intimidating environment.

Whether you've suffered physical, verbal or non-verbal harassment, it's important to understand you should never have to put up with this type of behaviour.

Some examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Unwanted sexual advances.
  • Needless touching or unwelcome physical contact.
  • Leering at a person's body.
  • Sending offensive emails.
  • Insensitive jokes.

In order to protect you from your employer, colleagues, clients or customers, the law against sexual harassment is extremely clear.

Indeed, employment tribunals treat sexual harassment seriously (this issue is a potentially imprisonable offence), with awards in these types of cases typically very high.

Consequently, if you believe you're being sexually harassed in the workplace, we can offer you more information on your rights, so please get in touch today for your initial free consultation.

Victimisation

Whether you've experienced bullying in the workplace, sexual harassment or any other form of discrimination, raising a complaint shouldn't see you treated differently by your employer.

However, if you've been singled out and harassed or bullied for exercising your legal rights and utilising your workplace's complaints procedure, this is classed as victimisation.

Additionally, victimisation can occur even after your employment has ended, as they may refuse to give you a reference due to the initiation of tribunal proceedings for discrimination.

In the first instance, we advise you raise a grievance in regards to victimisation before bringing a claim to an employment tribunal.

Why?

Because your claim is more likely to be taken seriously if, first of all, you've attempted to resolve the matter internally before resorting to legal proceedings.

Importantly, if you believe you're being victimised in the workplace, or you would like more information about any of the issues above, we can help.

Our years of expertise in employment law cases mean we're well placed to assist you with any workplace problem you may be experiencing.

If you would like an initial free consultation, please contact us and a member of the Ashby Cohen team will be happy to help.