Harassment in the workplace

 

Under the Equality Act 2010, ‘harassment’ is defined as when the effect of another’s conduct results in a violation of your dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you.

Recent research has uncovered that as many as 50% of employees in the UK have suffered some form of harassment in the work place. Harassment generally appears in two distinct forms:

  • Harassment in the form of bullying
  • Harassment on grounds of discrimination

Bullying

In the first instance, if you are experiencing bullying at work it would be advisable to seek the help of a union to try to resolve the matter internally.

If you feel that the bullying has gone beyond the stage of resolution, you may want to discuss the implications of choosing to work with a solicitor.

Seeking early advice from a solicitor can allow you to determine whether you could have a claim for constructive dismissal if you feel forced to resign from your employment as a direct result of the bullying you are being subjected to.

Discrimination

If the harassment is in the form of discrimination, then you could bring a claim against your employer at an employment tribunal whilst you are still working there. The harassment that you are suffering must fall within one of the following discriminatory categories:

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

Examples of discrimination suffered by clients range from direct discriminatory comments using derogatory language to policies which have been put in place which stop a certain category of people from progressing at the same speed as everyone else.

Many people are unaware that what is happening to them is discriminatory. Even one serious incident could constitute a discrimination claim - it does not necessarily have to be ongoing.

Don't be afraid to make a fuss

Many clients are also worried about the implications of ‘making a fuss’ at work. This is often the case in age discrimination cases in which the employee may be worried about the implications of losing a job that they have worked in for many years.

The key point to remember is that your employer must treat all their staff equally, offer the same opportunities to each employee as appropriate, and create a safe and protected working environment.

If your employer is in breach of this, then you are advised to seek legal advice to see if you are in fact a victim of harassment in the work place.

Written by Rosie Given.

Rosie Given was one of Contact Law’s most knowledgeable case handlers with extensive experience in this matter from dealing with clients on a day-to-day basis. If you'd like to speak to one of our case handlers about your situation, please call us on 0800 1777 162.

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