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Bullying and harassment at work

If you have been bullied or harassed at work, it can be difficult to take it up with the perpetrator and seek a positive resolution. First4lawyers can help.

We understand the emotional toll these types of attacks can take on a person, and we work hard to help our clients seek justice by using the right protection that employment law provides.

If you are a victim of workplace bullying or harassment, or if you have been accused of bullying or harassing others, you can contact First4lawyers to discuss the appropriate legal steps.

What is bullying and harassment at work?

The Equality Act 2010 does not offer protection against bullying at work, but it does make harassment in the workplace illegal, as does the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Often, actions that might be classed as bullying also constitute harassment.

The law views workplace harassment as unwanted behaviour that causes alarm or distress. Many cases are related to a person’s age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or beliefs.

Likewise, if you suffer unwanted behaviour directed at you because you are pregnant or raising a child, or because of your marital status, this can also be classed as harassment.

It can also take the form of any of the following behaviours in the workplace:

  • Unfair treatment
  • Malicious rumours
  • Being regularly undermined despite doing your job well
  • Being denied equal opportunities to your colleagues

Be aware that bullying and harassment can take many different forms, including face-to-face interactions, email, social media and telephone calls or texts.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states that people must not pursue any conduct that amounts to harassment of another person that they know or ought to know amounts to harassment.

What are the penalties for bullying and harassment at work?

For anyone found guilty of bullying and harassment in the workplace, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 provides for a fine of up to £5,000, a jail sentence of up to six months, or both.

I have been the victim of bullying and harassment at work – what should I do?

Try and address the issue informally, before embarking upon any legal proceedings. Try talking to your manager or human resources department, or seeking assistance from a trade union representative if you are part of a union.

If an informal approach doesn’t work you might want to file a grievance procedure with your employer.

If none of the above proves successful in bringing the issue to a close, you can take action at an employment tribunal. To do so, the advisors at First4lawyers can help. By getting in touch, our solicitors can guide you through each step, from building your case, to representing you in court.

I have been accused of bullying and harassment at work – what should I do?

If you can prove you didn’t know your behaviour was causing harassment, and you can also convince the court that you couldn’t have been reasonably expected to know that it would, then the case against you may be unsuccessful.

The way the court judges your level of guilt is by assessing whether a reasonable person in possession of the information you had would have thought your conduct amounted to harassment.

Harassment charges also do not apply if you can prove you were preventing or detecting crime, or if you were acting in order to comply with the rule of law, or if your conduct was reasonable in the circumstances.

Every harassment case is different, and yours will need to be investigated before you take action.

If you contact us to discuss the details of your situation, our advisors will listen to your situation and may put you in touch with our specialist employment lawyers to help you achieve the outcome you are looking for.

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