Bullying and Harassment

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What constitutes Bullying and Harassment?

Bullying can be described as:

  • offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient

Harassment as defined in the Equality Act 2010 is

  • unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual

Behaviour that is considered bullying by one person may be considered as management by another. Most people will agree on extreme cases of bullying and harassment but it is sometimes the ‘grey’ areas that cause most problems. Unacceptable behaviour may include:

  • spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour
  • copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know
  • ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail
  • exclusion or victimisation
  • unfair treatment
  • overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • making threats or comments about job security without foundation
  • deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism
  • preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.

Bullying and harassment can often be hard to recognise – symptoms may not be obvious to others, and may be insidious. Those on the receiving end may think ‘perhaps this is normal behaviour in this organisation’. They may be anxious that others will consider them weak, or not up to the job, if they find the actions of others intimidating.

What can you do if you feel you are be bullied or harassed?

Take notes of what has happened, when, who was involved and how you feel about it. Collect copies of any emails or other communications.

You should take any action as quickly as possible. It is always best to try to resolve this informally in the first instance with your line manager

However, if this fails there are a number of options to consider:

  • speaking to HR
  • in the last resort seek legal advice

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