Employees spend most of their time at work and in the company of their colleagues. Unfortunately, bullying in the workplace is more common than we would like to believe and can create an uncomfortable and unhealthy working environment.
Bullying at work can take various forms. It can be obvious and include making jokes at someone else’s expense or undermining them in front of other colleagues. Equally, the behaviour can be more subtle and take the form of ignoring a colleague or intentionally overloading them with work. Bullying can have a detrimental effect on the employee and can lead to various physical and mental health impairments. It is important to recognise when you are the victim of bullying and not be afraid to stand up for yourself.
If you believe you are being bullied in the workplace, there are several steps you can take to address the problem. It is always a good idea to try and talk to someone about how you are feeling and what can be done to change or improve the situation. Talking to a manager or HR representative on an informal basis is a great way to start. Alternatively, you could try and talk to the person bullying you and make them aware of the effect their behaviour is having on you. Be sure to keep a note of all incidents of bullying and any key dates you can remember. This information could become useful in the future should you wish to pursue further action.
If the problem cannot be resolved informally, the next step would be to raise a grievance to your employer. There will often be a grievance procedure to follow in your staff handbook that will provide useful tips on how the process works and what the relevant steps are. If you do not feel confident drafting a grievance letter on your own, you can instruct a solicitor to advise you on the contents of the letter and draft the same on your behalf. The grievance should be formally investigated by your employer and resolved if an issue is found.
If your employer does not uphold your grievance, or nothing changes, you may be able to pursue a legal claim. It may be beneficial at this stage to seek independent legal advice to better understand your rights and what claims you may be able to pursue against your employer. Your employer is unlikely to want matters to drag out and there may be an opportunity to reach a negotiated exit in order to avoid litigation entirely.
Bullying can be serious and it is important to recognise the signs early and take steps to resolve the problem.
If you would like to discuss this article in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment Team.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.