If you are experiencing bullying in the workplace, it is important to understand that what you are going through is not acceptable. There are legal protections in place for harassment and workplace bullying, and knowing your rights is the first step to protecting yourself. Specialist employment lawyers can take on your case and ensure that you are allowed to do your job free from fear and intimidation, and they’ll do it by using the law to its full effect.
What Constitutes Bullying and Harassment
The behaviours that might constitute bullying or harassment are not exhaustive, but they can include singling someone out for unwanted attention, undermining a colleague on a continual basis, deliberately denying someone the opportunity to advance their career and the spreading of malicious rumours. It is important to remember that bullying and harassment don’t necessarily have to take place in person. These behaviours can be carried out on the phone, on social media platforms and via email.
What the Law Says About Bullying and Harassment
The law doesn’t formally recognise bullying as a crime, but it does refer to harassment as being against the law. Seeking employment law advice will allow you to ascertain whether or not the behaviours being directed towards you are illegal. Harassment in the eyes of the law takes place when the behaviour is related to one of the following issues:
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy or maternity
- Marital status
What Should You Do if You’re Being Bullied or Harassed?
Your first action should be to approach your line manager in order to discuss the issue. However, if your predicament involves that person, you can direct your complaint to the next level of management. Failing that, you can contact the human resources department of your employer or your trade union representative. If you believe that your concerns aren’t being taken seriously, you can make your complaint formal by utilising your company’s formal grievance procedure. This course of action could lead to an employment tribunal, unless the situation can’t be amicably settled between you and all the concerned parties beforehand.
It is always a good idea to clarify your legal position before making a claim for harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Once you’re certain that filing a claim is your only viable option, you will need to complete a claim form to begin proceedings, which will be sent to your nearest Employment Tribunal Central Office. There is a fee for claiming discrimination, as well as a hearing fee if your case reaches a tribunal judge, but experienced employment lawyers will talk you through every step of this process in detail. A solicitor may even be able to assist you in negotiating exit terms under a settlement agreement without the need for you having to go to tribunal
You will be contacted by ACAS to see if your case can be resolved through conciliation; however, your legal representation will guide you on how to approach this situation. While conciliation might be in the best interests of your employer, it may not be appropriate to your predicament. Your employer will also be contacted, and will have up to 28 days to respond to your claim, otherwise a judge can rule in your favour without the need for a tribunal.
If your employer lodges any form of defence, the case will go to a hearing, and you might be called to a meeting with a judge beforehand. This process can be very stressful and intimidating at first, but having the support and advice of expert legal counsel means there will be no surprises. You’ll be briefed on exactly what to expect at every stage.
You will be required to state your case before a judge, as well as providing any supporting documents to prove harassment has taken place. These might include witness statements, your own notes, staff rotas, notes you’ve received from colleagues or anything that backs up your claim of bullying. Should you win, you can expect to receive compensation, which in the case of a discrimination hearing, has no upper limit.
Taking on the might of a resourceful employer can be a frightening prospect for anyone. But having employment law expertise at your disposal especially a firm that has the insider knowledge of acting for employers as well as employees will make it easier, and vastly improve your chances of getting the result you want.
Company Profile: Twenty Twenty Law offer top-ranked, commercially-focused employment law advice and guidance to employers and employees. They are a law firm that handle cases related to harassment and workplace bullying.
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