Legal Aid: A Blog About Laws And Legal Processes

Legal Aid: A Blog About Laws And Legal Processes

Harrassment and Bullying At Work - What Action Should You Take?

Renee Bates

If you're being bullied at work, you don't have to tolerate it!  The law is there to protect you while you're at work and a specialist employment solicitor in your area could help you to resolve matters.  But what defines workplace bullying, what is harassment and what could a solicitor do to help you?  Read on for more information.

What constitutes workplace bullying?

The following actions can be defined as workplace bullying:

  • being given work that is impossible to complete to the satisfaction of your employer
  • being physically threatened
  • receiving unfair criticism, being victimised or being excluded
  • having promotion or training opportunities disregarded or blocked
  • being stripped of responsibilities

What is harassment?

Harassment is a form of bullying, and it is recognised under specific facets of employment law.  Some types of harassment are defined as discriminatory including:

  • being ruled out of activities or jobs because of your age
  • being excluded from jobs or activities because you have a physical or mental disability
  • being ridiculed or verbally abused because of your gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs

Age, sex, sexual orientation, disability and religion are all defined as 'protected characteristics' under employment law.

The law defines harassment as:

'… 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.'

If you are successful in claiming against your employer for harassment, you may be awarded compensation for 'injury to your feelings'.

Other legally recognised forms of harassment include:

  • conduct that causes you distress or alarm, occurring on at least two occasions

This form of harassment is usually sexual in nature and can also involve stalking behaviour.  For example, if a co-worker asks you out on a date and you decline, but they continue to pester you at work by email, text or in person, such behaviour can be defined as harassment.

What should you do if you think you are being bullied?

If you think you're being bullied at work, your first recourse should be to your employer to lodge a grievance as per the tenets of your workplace policy on such matters.  Your employer should then take action to stop the bullying.

If the bullying continues, don't be pushed into leaving your job; seek the advice of a solicitor in your area first.  In cases where your position is made so unbearable that you feel unable to attend work, you may be able to resign and claim against your employer for constructive dismissal.  Your solicitor may then help you to pursue a claim through an Employment Tribunal.

In conclusion

If you feel that you are being bullied or harassed at work and your employer has done nothing to remedy the problem, don't just let it continue. Seek the advice of a solicitor in your area and work to get the problem resolved.


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About Me
Legal Aid: A Blog About Laws And Legal Processes

Welcome! My name is Jessica, and I work as a legal aid secretary. I am in awe of the lawyers in my office and the variety of cases they cover. From injury compensation to family court matters, they need to understand the law in a broad range of areas. As a legal secretary, it is often my job to research particular points of law or find certain cases for reference. It is a fascinating job and I work hard to keep up with the constant changes to our laws and legal processes. Friends and family often ask me for direction on legal matters and whilst I explain that I am no expert, I usually manage to provide sound advice. This blog is for people who share my passion for the law or who want to understand more about our legal system. I hope you find it engaging and useful.