Harassment in the Workplace
In all workplaces there is an element of badinage, and for the most part, this is a vital and uplifting part of working life. In some cases, however, harmless banter can cross the line into something more sinister. Bullying and harassment in any workplace can be fatal to morale and damaging to the health and wellbeing of employees. Our employment law solicitors can help you whether you are facing these issues as an employee or as a business owner.
Bullying and Harassment
Employment law in the UK distinguishes between discrimination, harassment and bullying:
The Equality Act 2010 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 and intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.
Bullying, on the other hand, is given its everyday meaning. ACAS offer a helpful definition:
“Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.
What amounts to bullying varies, but you may be a victim if:
- You are constantly picked on
- You are humiliated in front of colleagues/customers/clients
- You are treated unfairly in comparison to others
- You are made the scapegoat for mistakes
- You are given a disproportionate workload
- You are threatened with violence or with losing your job
Protection against bullying and harassment extends from work to all work-related settings including external events such as social occasions.
If you feel you are the victim of bullying or harassment, you should speak to your employer or appropriate office-holder before raising legal action. Appropriate office holders include your line manager, human resources representatives of trade union representatives. It may even be appropriate to speak to the person carrying out the bullying or harassment, if you feel capable. In many cases, this will remedy the situation.
There will, of course, be a great many cases in which this is inappropriate or impossible. Workplace bullying can cause a great deal of suffering and transcend the workplace and harm an employee’s health and personal life. It can be daunting to raise an action against an employer or even broach the issue with them. However, if you do raise a complaint and you are left dissatisfied by your employer’s response, you may be able to raise a legal action.
Contact our Solicitors for Bullying, Harassment or Discrimination Legal Advice
Contact Lewis Nedas Law for expert advice on raising an action against your employer – or, as an employer, on defending an action by an employee – for bullying, harassment or discrimination.