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Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination

What is bullying and harassment?

  • Any behaviour that leaves someone feeling upset, uncomfortable, left out, criticised or treated badly could be considered to amount to bullying.
  • Where you are treated badly through behaviour that is unwanted and is related to a protected characteristic (set out below) – this may amount to harassment. It will if it has the purpose or effect of violating your dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
  • Harassment includes sexual harassment at work, which prohibits comments, messages or other treatment of a sexual nature.

What is discrimination?

  • The law recognises characteristics which ought not give rise to unequal treatment. These are known as protected characteristics and include age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Anyone subjected to different treatment because of their protected characteristic may have been discriminated against.

How am I protected?

  • Although bullying in the workplace itself is not unlawful, if your employer does not take reasonable steps to prevent you from being bullied and you resign in response, you may be able to pursue a claim against your employer for constructive, unfair dismissal.
  • The law protects people from being treated less favourably because of their protected characteristic. This can include direct or indirect treatment and extends protection wider for pregnant women and disabled people in particular.

How can I enforce my rights?

  • Anyone subjected to discrimination or harassment has the right to pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal, even if they remain employed. There are ways to challenge this treatment internally as an alternative, which might include the right to raise a grievance.

Need further advice?

Please get in touch with our specialist Employment Team  

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