Although bullying, harassment and victimisation are often used interchangeably in a colloquial sense, they actually refer to three separate offending actions in the workplace under employment law.
Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as "… unwanted conduct … which has the purpose or effect of violating [a person's] dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment".
The harassment is contrary to the legislation when it relates to one or more of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 such as a person's age, religion or beliefs, race, gender or marital status.
If you feel that you have been harassed at work due to one or more of the protected characteristics then we will be able to advise you on your rights and remedies as a result.
Unfortunately, bullying is not covered by any employment law legislation. Whilst, more often than not, it is unwanted conduct that would leave the employee feeling humiliated or degraded, it is not always related to one of the protected characteristics.
This means that if you are being mistreated at work by a bully who is simply that - a bully - but it does not relate to any of your protected characteristics, then you are not likely to have a claim under the Equality Act that could be brought in front of the Employment Tribunal.
This does not mean that you must accept the behaviour! Bullying, whilst not illegal, is still not acceptable and we can assist you with proceeding through the grievance process internally and even advising you on other potential claims that you may have if the situation is not resolved, such as constructive dismissal.
Victimisation is when a person is subjected to a detriment because they have done a protected act or are believed to have carried out a protected act (Section 27 of the Equality Act 2010).
Protected acts include bringing proceedings against a company or person that you believe have breached the Equality Act or raising a complaint on that basis.
A detriment could range from being passed over for promotion to being dismissed without due cause or process.
Sometimes, a claim for victimisation might be linked to other related claims under the Equality Act 2010 and we can assist you with considering and assessing that when advising you.
We have 3 members of the team who may work on your matter.
Jemma Bennett, Paralegal
Whoever works on your matter they will ultimately be supervised by Alexandra Dean, Partner.