Everyone is entitled to a safe place and system of work that is free from bullying and harassment. The law makes it is unlawful for anyone to pursue a course of unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of:
- violating a person's dignity; or
- creating an offensive, intimidating, degrading, humiliating or hostile environment.
Unlawful harassment may be discriminatory if related to age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
An individual may also be harassed even if they were not the intended "target". For example, a person may be harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if they create an offensive environment for them.
In most cases the employer will be held liable for actions of their staff but in some cases individual members of staff may be legally liable for harassment of colleagues or third parties which including customers, and may be ordered to pay compensation by a court or employment tribunal.
If you believe you have been bullied or harassed at work, please contact us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is bullying? »
Bullying is harder to define than harassment, as there is no specific legal definition. Bullying can be offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority, but can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.
Legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a worker's performance or behaviour, or reasonable instructions given to workers in the course of their employment, will not amount to bullying on their own.Hide this answer
What are examples of bullying? »
Bullying may include, by way of example:
- shouting at, being sarcastic towards, ridiculing or demeaning others;
- physical or psychological threats;
- overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision;
- inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about someone's performance;
- abuse of authority or power by those in positions of seniority; or
- deliberately excluding someone from meetings or communications without good reason.
What are examples of harassment? »
Harassment may include, by way of example:
- unwanted physical conduct or "horseplay", including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space, and more serious forms of physical or sexual assault;
- unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour (which the harasser may perceive as harmless), and suggestions that sexual favours may further a career or that a refusal may hinder it;
- continued suggestions for social activity after it has been made clear that such suggestions are unwelcome;
- sending or displaying material that is pornographic or that some people may find offensive (including e-mails, text messages, video clips and images sent by mobile phone or posted on the Internet);
- offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks;
- mocking, mimicking or belittling a person's disability;
- racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender;
- outing or threatening to out someone as gay or lesbian; or
- ignoring or shunning someone, for example, by deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a workplace social activity.
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