Worthingtons Solicitors

Harassment and Bullying

Harassment in the work place is unlawful and is defined by the discrimination legislation as unwanted conduct which has the purpose or the effect of violating a person’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for an individual. However, whilst bullying has no specific statutory definition, it is plausible that conduct which amounts to harassment may also be considered bullying. The two are unlikely to be mutually exclusive, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

A person may feel harassed and/or bullied on the following grounds, which are prohibited by law:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race
  • Religious belief/political opinion
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation

The relationship between employer and employee is one based on mutual trust and confidence. An employer has a duty of care to its employees to provide a safe place to work, reasonable support, and must adequately and reasonably investigate complaints raised with regards alleged bullying and harassment.

An employer may have a separate ‘Harassment’ policy for dealing with such complaints; or it may be that the matter is addressed by way of the company’s grievance procedure. We therefore refer to our ‘Grievance Procedure’ page, which specifically relates to the process in this regard.

Complaints in relation to alleged bullying/harassment should be made as soon as possible and an employer must investigate within a reasonable time frame.

The deadline for lodging an Industrial Tribunal claim in relation to bullying/harassing conduct is 3 months from the date of the act; or, 3 months from the date of the last act if the bullying/harassment complained of is continuing in nature.

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