Bullying in the Workplace
Bullying at work is when someone tries to intimidate another worker, often in front of colleagues.
Bullying at work is similar to harassment, which is where someone’s behaviour is offensive – for example, making sexual comments, or abusing someone’s race, religion or sexual orientation, and is usually, though not always, done to someone in a less senior position.
It is not possible to make a legal claim directly about bullying, but complaints can be made under laws covering discrimination and harassment. If you’re forced to resign due to bullying you may be able to make a constructive dismissal claim.
- Examples of bullying behaviour
- constantly picked on
- humiliated in front of colleagues
- regularly treated unfairly
- physically or verbally abused
- blamed for problems caused by others
- always given too much to do, so that you regularly fail in your work
- regularly threatened with the sack
- unfairly passed over for promotion or denied training opportunities
Bullying can be face-to-face, in writing, over the phone or by fax or email.
Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to their employees and this includes dealing with bullying at work. There are measures you can take if you’re being bullied.
Speak to someone about how you might deal with the problem informally. Some employers have specially trained staff to help with bullying and harassment problems; they are sometimes called ‘harassment advisers’. If the bullying is affecting your health, visit your doctor.
It is important to keep a written record or diary so write down details of every incident and keep copies of any relevant documents.
Making a formal complaint is the next step if you are unable to solve the problem informally.
To do this you must follow your employer’s grievance procedure, or if one doesn’t exist you can use the statutory grievance procedure.
Sometimes the problem continues even after you’ve followed your employer’s grievance procedure. If nothing is done to put things right, you can think about taking legal action. This may mean going to an employment tribunal.