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Bullying in the workplace

Bullying does not always remain in the playground. For some, bullying continues into adult life such as in the workplace. Although there is a fine line between tough management and an abusive one there can be times where this line is crossed.

Bullying is not limited to unwanted conduct by management as it can also include unwanted conduct by your colleagues. Although a certain amount of ‘banter’ at work can be considered as reasonable such ‘banter’ can be taken too far. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct and can be on the phone, by email, by letter, on social media or in person. Examples of bullying in the workplace can include:

  • Physical or psychological threats
  • Overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision
  • Excessive criticism or being demeaned in front of others
  • Constant teasing, inappropriate derogatory remarks or sexual innuendos
  • Threats to your job security
  • Spreading malicious rumours about you

Your employer has a legal duty of care to protect you while you are at work. This includes preventing and dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace. Your employer may be vicariously liable for the acts of your colleagues and/or your supervisor or boss. Bullying and harassment could also amount to a breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence that should exist in any employment contract. Should your boss be involved in bullying you or should your employer fail to take action to protect you in the workplace against bullying and harassment you may be able to pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal for unfair constructive dismissal.  If you suffer anxiety and depression as a result of such conduct, you may also have a claim for compensation for personal injury.  Furthermore, if the bullying behavior is connected in any way to a protected characteristic, such as your sex, sexuality, age, disability, race, religion or gender reassignment you may also be able to bring a claim for unlawful discrimination. 

Employers should have written procedures in place for dealing with bullying, stress at work or discriminatory harassment.  It is important that should you be the victim of such behavior, you use such procedures to tackle the problems you are experiencing.  If no procedures exist, you should raise a formal written grievance.  In our experience, once such action is taken, this can quite often put a stop to the behavior in question as no bully likes to be in the spotlight and called out as a bully to their peers and staff. If the behavior doesn’t stop or your employer tales insufficient action to prevent such behavior reoccurring, then you would be in a much stronger position to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal or civil courts.

If you are experiencing bullying in the workplace and would like to discuss what you can do please get in touch with Linder Myers today on 0800 042 0700 or email us on

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