work can have a serious impact on an employee’s life. In many cases it can be sorted out with a quiet word. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to take legal action. Miller Samuel Hill Brown can help.
There are a number of employment laws in the UK which provide for employee protection against bullying or harassment in the workplace.
ACAS define bullying as: “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”.
A person is being bullied if, for instance, they are:
Employees have the right not to be the victim of such treatment at work or in a work-related setting (e.g. a training course or a work-related social occasion).
Harassment has a legal definition. In employment law terms, harassment can only occur where any unwanted conduct takes place because of a protected characteristic, as defined by the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 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’.
Importantly, an employee can be subjected to harassment even where they do not have the particular protected characteristic personally. An employee would be entitled to bring a claim because of their association with someone who has the protected characteristic or because they are perceived to have a particular characteristic.
Workplace bullying is serious and can cause extreme suffering. Dealing with bullying or harassment at work can be a daunting prospect, for both employees and employers.
There are a number of pieces of legislation which provide employees with rights (and employers with obligations) to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace.
Employers need to be aware of these duties to ensure that they are not on the wrong side of a claim, whether this takes the form of a discrimination or constructive dismissal claim before the Employment Tribunal or a more costly personal injury (including stress at work) claim before the courts.
We can provide assistance and guidance on dealing with victimisation, bullying or harassment in the workplace.