Bullying at work is when someone tries to intimidate another worker, often in front of colleagues. It is usually, though not always, done to someone in a less senior position. It is similar to harassment, which is where someone’s behavior is offensive. For example, making sexual comments, or abusing someone’s race, religion or sexual orientation.
You cannot make a legal claim directly about bullying, but complaints can be made under laws covering discrimination and harassment.
If you are forced to resign due to bullying you can make a constructive dismissal claim.
What to do if you are bullied at work
Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to their employees and this includes dealing with bullying at work. There are measures you can take if you are being bullied.
Speak to someone about how you might deal with the problem informally. This might be:
• an employee representative like a trade union official
• someone in the firms human resources department
• your manager or supervisor
Some employers have specially trained staff to help with bullying and harassment problems. They are sometimes called ‘harassment advisers’. If the bullying is affecting your health, visit your GP.
Talk to the bully
The bullying may not be deliberate. If you can, talk to the person in question, who may not realize how their behavior has been affecting you. Work out what to say beforehand. Describe what has been happening and why you object to it. Stay calm and be polite. If you don’t want to talk to them yourself, ask someone else to do so for you.
Keep a written record or diary
Write down details of every incident and keep copies of any relevant documents.
Making a formal complaint
Making a formal complaint is the next step if you can’t solve the problem informally. To do this you must follow your employer’s grievance procedure.