Harassment at work
Bullying and Harassment by a Manager
Workplace bullying is one of the commonest reasons for complaints in employment law. Unfortunately, it is often something that is swept under the carpet, not talked about, or dealt with in an inappropriate or ineffective manner. We can help you, here are the steps that you will have to undertake with us so as to achieve justice and get out of such situation.
Bullying and harassment distinguished
The terms bullying, victimisation and harassment are frequently used synonymously. In the UK currently, bullying has no legal definition however is commonly viewed upon as offensive, malicious, intimidating or abusive behaviour; misuse or abuse of power with the intention to in some way injure or undermine the recipient. Bullying is unwarranted and unwelcome. In work, it generally occurs when a person in a more senior position appears to be intimidating or acting offensively to a person in a junior position. In some instances it occurs disguised and subtlety in accordance with company policies and could even result in the employee being put on a performance review. On the whole, a legal claim for bullying comes under harassment legislation.
How can I build a successful harassment case?
Although bullying is not legally defined, harassment has a legal definition under the Equality Act 2010. It can have two meanings. First, it can be unwanted behaviour to ‘protected characteristics’. This means the harassment must relate to one of the protected characteristics, namely, age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Second, it can be unwanted behaviour such as a ‘prohibited conduct’ that violates someone’s dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for someone. Harassment can also be unwanted conduct of a sexual nature.
Also, harassment and bullying is not limited to being face to face, it can also occur via emails and any other forms of communication. The unwanted behaviour need not be directed to you directly, the existence of an offensive environment at work might be enough to make you feel harassed.
Other grounds related to harassment
The right not to be bullied, victimised or harassed is broader than that and refers to employees who make whistleblowing claims, or suggest there are health and safety issues or who accompany a colleague by taking time off work who is going through a grievance or disciplinary procedure and who may be subject to a detriment, amid other categories.
Steps to undertake
First of all, you have to make sure that you let your manager or union or staff representative know of the problem, which can solve the harassment issue before lodging a case before a tribunal. If you have already done it or feel like it is unlikely to solve your problem, get legal advice from us as soon as possible.
Collect all the useful evidence
Your case is more likely to succeed if you can evidence that the environment you are working in is harassing you. Often the allegation of harassment will be against a manager who when confronted by HR will deny it even occurred. A practical piece of advice is only raise allegations of harassment that you can prove.Therefore, so that we can help you to the best of our capabilities, please collect all of the evidence you can get that proves harassment. This includes:
- a list of all the incidents you have experienced including the names of the people involved if known;
- recordings and details of any abusive language directed at you;
- information on other workers who have also experienced similar treatment and whether they share your protected characteristic,
- information on things you have done in response to your treatment – for example, if you have complained to someone. You should include the dates and names of the people you have complained about or to;
- explain how the treatment made you feel and how it has impacted on your work – for example, if you have suffered from stress or anxiety or gone off sick;
- information about any medical treatment you have received as a result of the incidents – this could be for physical or injuries to feelings;
- evidence of the behaviour from someone else like the police, CCTV or video footage, emergency service records;
- documentation and letters you have received or sent in relation to the incidents; and
- any texts or social networking messages you have received or sent.
Be aware that if you make a claim to an employment tribunal, they will expect you to have tried to resolve the problem with the organisation and any records you have kept will be considered when it hears your claim, so COLLECT EVIDENCE!
Other legal routes to make a complaint for harassment
Along with claims under particular harassment legislation, it may be possible for a worker suffering from harassment or bullying to make a claim for breach of an implied term. The 3 most significant in this context include:
- the term of mutual confident and trust;
- the employer is to provide a safe system of work; and
- an implied term relating to the case of Waters v Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police  IRLR 720 that “the employer shall render reasonable support to an employee to ensure that the employee can carry out the duties of his job without harassment and disruption by fellow workers”.
If you feel you are being harassed in the workplace, contact us immediately here at Employment Lawyer in London for further advice on 0208 579 1345.