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Bullying and Harassment
Workplace bullying and/or harassment are common. They can be devastating to the victim.
You might be victim of or accused of doing one of the following:
- spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour (e.g. copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know, ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail)
- exclusion or victimisation
- unfair treatment
- overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
- unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials, asking for sexual favours, making decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected
- bullying and harassment
- making threats or comments about job security without foundation
- deliberately undermining a competent worker by constant criticism or setting unreachable targets or expectations
- preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities
Bullying and harassment are not necessarily face to face. They may also occur in written communications, email, phone, and automatic supervision methods such as computer recording of downtime from work or the number of calls handled if these are not applied to all workers.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it an offence to commit unwanted conduct amounting to harassment to anyone in relation to one of the defined protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are:
- Gender Reassignment
- Marriage and Civil Partnership
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Religion or Belief
- Sexual Orientation
There is also the potential for a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This does not rely on protected characteristics, but on the nature of the behaviour and its effect on the victim. This is a criminal, as well as a civil offence. The conduct must be objectively harassing and serious, amounting to a pattern of conduct that a person knows or ought to know is harassing in nature and for which there is no reasonable excuse. Damages are awarded for the anxiety caused to the victim (e.g. causing fear, violation, humiliation or damage to mental well being or self esteem) and financial loss.
All workplaces should have clear policies and procedures in place for identifying and dealing with cases of harassment and workplace bullying. At Judge & Priestley, we can work with you to ensure your organisation has a clear, unambiguous anti-harassment and workplace bullying policy, which will contribute to a productive and happy workforce.
If You Are a Victim
Our employment team have many years’ experience dealing with sensitive workplace issues and understand how harassment and bullying can destroy a victim's self-esteem over time and when they finally speak out, they are often in an emotionally vulnerable state.
Our services are completely confidential and we will take not take any course of action without your full consent. If you need further support, we can recommend professionals who can assist you with putting your life back together.
If you are Accused of Harassing or Bullying Conduct
If you are accused of harassment and bullying, you may need advice on the merits of such a claim and strategies for dealing with it.
To talk to our employment law expert, ring Paul Stevens on 020 8290 7422 to make a confidential appointment.