Bullying in the workplace


Being bullied at work is distressing, and damaging both financially and emotionally. There are a number of laws that can help victims of bullying. A solicitor can help you take advantage of these.

Bullying defined

Bullying involves behaviour which is either:

  • Offensive
  • Intimidating
  • Malicious
  • Insulting

In itself this is not unlawful. However, if the behaviour is directed at you because of a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 this is unlawful harassment. These characteristics include:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

Your employer is legally obliged to protect you from this kind of harassment.

Proving harassment

Harassment takes many forms and can be subtle. Proving that unlawful harassment has taken place can be difficult. Solicitors will use their experience and expertise to look beyond the emotional side of the situation and assess the legal position.

If you are bullied at work this could be unlawful for reasons other than the Equality Act. For example, it could be a breach of contract or, if you are forced to resign, constructive dismissal. A solicitor can advise you on your options based on all the legal issues that apply to your case, not just the most obvious ones.

Employer obligations

Your employer has a legal duty to protect you against this kind of bullying. Sometimes it can be hard to prove that the bullying against you was due to discrimination. An employment solicitor will give you an honest assessment of whether your claim is likely to succeed based on their experience.

If you cannot make a claim for unlawful harassment you might have other legal recourses. For example, where your employer fails to follow a fair process when considering a complaint you make about bullying, where you feel you have to resign because of the bullying, or where your employment contract is breached.

How it should be approached

Problems at work are normally best addressed internally at first. Making a complaint to your employer could be challenging if you are being bullied. Speaking to a solicitor can give you the knowledge and confidence to help you get the most out of your employer’s grievance process.

Workplace bullying can have significant effects on your career prospects and health. The costs involved in consulting a solicitor are nearly always worth it in the long run.

Employment law is a technical area and a specialist solicitor will examine the legalities surrounding your bullying experience and advise on potential avenues for redress. For victims of workplace bullying, talking about this can be upsetting or uncomfortable. An experienced employment solicitor will advise you sensitively and confidentially.
Do you feel you are being bullied at your workplace? Whether it is on grounds of discrimination or not, you may have a claim against your employer. Contact Law can put you in touch with specialist employment law solicitors who can assess your case and inform you of the likelihood of a successful tribunal claim.

Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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