Bullying and harassment
What is bullying?
It is behaviour towards an individual by another person that is abusive, scary, cruel or insulting – sometimes it can be all of these. Bullying is also when someone uses or abuses their power to undermine, humiliate or injure another person. It can happen anywhere and can be very damaging for the victim, but it’s the way that it is dealt with that makes the difference between your work life being tolerable or miserable.
What is harassment?
Harassment is different from bullying, although the two are often confused. It is when someone’s unwanted actions relate to the personal (or ‘protected’) characteristics of another person, for example their age, disability, gender, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Harassment turns a happy working environment into one that is unfriendly, offensive and degrading for an individual or group of people.
What can I do about it?
Your employer should have a policy on bullying and harassment, so firstly you should ask for a copy, so that you understand your rights and how to address the situation. Sometimes it might be possible to raise the matter informally, but if not you can raise an official grievance. If you need help to do this but feel that you need additional support, then contact us for advice and information.
Bullying and Harassment examples:
- Making insults about someone’s appearance or lifestyle
- Bossy behaviour or singling someone out for unfair criticism
- Excluding, victimising or deliberately undermining someone
- Spreading rumours or confidential/sensitive information about someone
The question of where the boundary lies between an employer’s need to monitor staff and an employee’s right to privacy has once again landed at the European Court of Human Rights’ door.
The end of last month saw the Employment Appeal Tribunal rule that an employer had unfairly dismissed an employee for failing to present evidence of their right to work.