How to Handle Bullying at Work

If you’re suffering at the hands of a workplace bully, it’s time to puff out your chest and take action.

While some may assume that bullying begins and ends in the school playground, the reality is very different, with snide tormentors aiming acerbic jibes and even physical threats to thousands of browbeaten co-workers up and down the country on a daily basis.

In fact, employment tribunal statistics reveal that bullying affects a staggering one in four people in the workplace, leading beleaguered employees to take 19 million sick days every year, which costs the UK economy an eye-watering £13bn per annum.  

So what can be done?

Put a Stop to Workplace Bullying

Whether your belligerent boss gets a kick out of blowing stale cigar smoke in your face and undermining your position or a hostile colleague is determined to attack you at every turn, this aggressive behaviour should not be tolerated.

Although bullying itself isn’t against the law, and there’s no legal definition of bullying at work, if this negative behaviour is related to your ...

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation

...  then this could amount to harassment giving rise to a claim under the Equality Act 2010. 

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Admittedly, taking action against bullies in the workplace can be a daunting prospect, but it’s important to remember that the law is on your side when dealing with unwanted attention from an individual or individuals – and we’re here to help.

What to Do If You’re Bullied at Work

While we recommend attempting to deal with the problem off the record by approaching your workplace tormentor and letting them know how their behaviour is affecting your disposition, we understand how intimidating this can be.

Alternatively, try talking to your manager or HR department for some sound advice before you go down the route of lodging a formal complaint against workplace bullies using your employer’s grievance procedure.

But if this doesn’t resolve the issue, legal action at an employment tribunal is often the next step.

How Ashby Cohen Can Help

If bullying at work has undermined your confidence and led to your resignation (or even being dismissed unfairly), you may have a claim for unfair dismissal or constructive unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.

There’s also the potential to claim for discrimination if you believe the bullying is due to a “protected characteristic”, which can include slurs about your race, religion, sexual orientation, age or any disability you may have.

In addition, you could also pursue a civil and criminal claim in more serious cases under the Protection of Harassment Act.  However, for a potential civil case, there must be at least two incidents of harassment, with harassment defined as behaviour that causes distress or alarm.

We know just how frightening dealing with bullying in the workplace can be, but at Ashby Cohen, we’ve given expert advice and pursued claims for countless employees in a wide variety of industries over the years. For more information, please get in touch today.

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