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Council Compensation Claims

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Not sure if you have a valid claim? Contact us for free advice, with no obligation to proceed.

Council Compensation Claims

No win no fee guarantee

No win no fee takes the risk out of making an injury claim. If you lose your case, you don't pay a penny.

Council Compensation Claims

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We work in partnership with National Accident Helpline, the UK's leading personal injury experts.

Examples of Bullying in the Workplace

Workplace bullying and harassment can range from subtle forms of manipulation to overt acts of aggression. It can have a profound emotional impact on employees, altogether affecting their physical health and productivity. The most common examples of bullying in the workplace include verbal abuse, intimidation and social exclusion.

Employers have a duty of care to protect employees from harm at work, and this includes dealing with workplace bullying. They should be able to recognise the signs of bullying in the workplace and handle any complaint seriously and as soon as possible. Any failure to do so could be considered negligence and lead to a personal injury compensation claim.

To learn more about workplace bullying and your legal rights if you experience any harassment in the workplace, call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a friendly legal adviser. You can also use our online claim form to request a call back.

What is bullying?

Bullying refers to unwanted behaviour that is aimed at intimidating, harming or controlling another person. It can manifest in various forms, such as verbal abuse, social exclusion, physical intimidation, or cyberbullying. Bullying can occur in different environments, including schools, workplaces, communities, or online platforms. It can have serious adverse effects on the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the victim, and it might:

  • Be a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behaviour
  • Not always be apparent or noticed by others
  • Happen in person or via text, email or social media

Not everyone may be able to recognise that their behaviour is bullying. However, any malicious, intimidating or offensive words or acts are still bullying, even if they do not realise it or do not intend to bully the other person.

What are protected characteristics?

Protected characteristics are specific attributes, traits, or personal qualities safeguarded by anti-discrimination laws. These are protected to ensure that individuals are treated fairly and equally in various aspects of life, including employment, housing and education. They are outlined in the Equality Act 2010 and include:

  • Age. Examples of workplace bullying based on age are treating someone less favourably due to their age or putting people of a particular age group at a disadvantage.
  • Disability. A disability can be a physical or mental impairment, whether you have it now or have recovered from it. Discrimination and bullying based on disability include mocking, making offensive comments or failing to make reasonable changes to accommodate their needs.
  • Gender reassignment. You cannot be harassed or treated differently if you are planning to transition, are in the process of doing it, or have already transitioned.
  • Marriage and civil partnership. Discrimination based on marital status includes treating someone less favourably because they are married, single, or in a civil partnership or making comments about their spouse or partner.
  • Pregnancy and maternity. This characteristic protects women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are on maternity leave.
  • Race. This refers to a person’s racial or ethnic background, including nationality, skin colour, and cultural heritage.
  • Religion or belief. This characteristic protects individuals with religious or philosophical beliefs, including atheism, agnosticism, or pacifism.
  • Sex. This characteristic refers to a person’s biological sex, whether they are male or female. You may also be protected if you are non-binary, but the law is complicated in this area.
  • Sexual orientation. Discrimination based on sexual orientation includes mistreating someone due to being gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual or pansexual.

Workplace bullying can be related to these protected characteristics or not. In the section below, we have listed some of the most common examples of bullying at work that could lead to a personal injury claim.

What are some common examples of workplace bullying?

Bullying in the workplace, as in any other place, can take many forms, and it is not always easy to recognise. In the UK, nearly three in every ten workers have been the victim of bullying at work. When it comes to cyberbullying, eight out of 10 workers have experienced at least one occasion of online harassment, and nearly 20% experience it every week. Examples of bullying in the workplace include:

  • Shouting, swearing and other forms of verbal abuse
  • Making belittling or derogatory remarks
  • Ignoring someone’s views and opinions
  • Teasing or practical jokes
  • Giving impossible deadlines or unmanageable workloads
  • Humiliating or constantly putting someone down in front of others
  • Starting malicious gossip and rumours about someone
  • Excluding someone from social events or ignoring them on purpose
  • Using aggressive body language or making threatening gestures
  • Invading personal space
  • Intentionally blocking training or promotion opportunities
  • Setting someone up to fail
  • Physical abuse like hitting, pushing or kicking
  • Undermining a competent worker with constant criticism
  • Sexual harassment, such as making unwanted advances or inappropriate comments
  • Using manipulation tactics like gaslighting or spreading misinformation
  • Excessively checking up on someone or constantly monitoring their work

Many other bullying at work examples can be added to this list. However, it is essential to understand that some types of behaviour that may seem unfair may not necessarily involve bullying. For example, your employer can sack you, demote you, discipline you or control the work that you do if this is a reasonable decision and they act in a fair way. They may also provide constructive criticism, even if you find it hard to accept.

A less typical example of workplace bullying behaviour is upward bullying, also known as subordinate bullying. It can come from a person or group of employees towards their superior or manager and may include:

  • Refusing to complete tasks
  • Undermining their authority
  • Spreading false rumours or gossip
  • Questioning their decisions or directives in public
  • Ignoring or refusing to follow their instructions
  • Mocking their ideas or suggestions during meetings

How can workplace bullying affect employees?

Any form of bullying, whether in a work environment or somewhere else, can have a significant physical or emotional impact on the victim. Some of the ways in which bullying and harassment at work can affect a person being bullied include:

  • It can cause emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem and also lead to feelings of isolation and helplessness;
  • The victim may constantly feel threatened, humiliated and intimidated, leading to feelings of anger or frustration;
  • Workers may find it difficult to concentrate on their work and perform at their best, leading to decreased productivity and missed deadlines;
  • Employees may be more likely to call in sick or take time off work to avoid facing their bully, leading to increased absenteeism;
  • It can harm an employee’s reputation and career prospects, affecting their chances of promotion;
  • It can significantly affect the physical health of workers, causing symptoms such as nausea, ulcers, headaches, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and sleep problems.

Overall, bullying can impact anyone who experiences, witnesses or is aware of this behaviour, creating a toxic work environment where morale is low and relationships are strained. While the signs of bullying in the workplace are not always obvious, employers are expected to act on any complaint promptly and do all they can to prevent it in the future.

Signs of bullying in the workplace

There are various types of workplace bullying, including:

  • Face-to-face bullying. This type of bullying involves direct interactions in which the bully may use verbal abuse, intimidation, or physical aggression.
  • Bullying over the phone. That can include an aggressive tone of voice, personal attacks, or constant criticism during phone calls.
  • Online bullying. Cyberbullying at work may involve sending threatening or demeaning messages, spreading rumours, or posting derogatory comments publicly.
  • Written bullying. This form of bullying involves written communication, such as letters, memos, or notes, in which the bully may use offensive, demeaning, or derogatory language.

Sometimes, it may be challenging to recognise the signs of bullying in the workplace, but some common indicators to look for include the following:

  • You feel alienated, outcast, ignored or excluded from lunch, meetings, team events or meaningful discussions;
  • You frequently receive unwarranted criticism or negative feedback in front of others;
  • You are overlooked from promotion, progress or training opportunities;
  • Your work, ideas or efforts are constantly criticised in front of others;
  • You regularly experience verbal attacks or derogatory remarks from coworkers or supervisors;
  • Your boss or colleagues frequently yell at you and write it off as being rigid or under a lot of pressure;
  • Your work is being excessively monitored, or you receive unreasonable workloads;
  • Almost every one of your decisions or ideas is called into question;
  • You feel emotionally manipulated through shame or guilt;
  • You receive inappropriate comments, unwanted sexual advances or even physical touches.

If you recognise these signs and you feel you are the victim of bullying or harassment, you can take action by following the steps detailed in the section below.

What to do if you think you’re being bullied at work

If you believe you are being bullied, harassed, or discriminated against in the workplace, you should first talk to someone who can help you understand the situation. Sometimes, what you perceive as bullying may not be classified as bullying behaviour, such as constructive criticism. If you need more help understanding bullying, you can also contact the Acas helpline.

If you feel bullied, you should first try to solve the issue informally. Explain to the person you think bullied you what they did and how it made you feel, and ask them to stop this behaviour. You can do this in person or in writing, and you can ask your superior, union representative, or the human resources (HR) department to support you.

If informal methods fail and the other person does not stop, you can take formal action and raise a grievance with your employer. If you feel the situation is too severe to fix informally, you can take this as a first step. Your employer should look into it and take the necessary measures to resolve the problem and avoid legal action.

If they fail to do so, or if your employer is the bully, you may be eligible to start a workplace bullying compensation claim. If you had to leave your job because of bullying issues, you could also make a claim to an employment tribunal for constructive dismissal.

Employer duty of care to prevent workplace bullying

While there are no specific laws relating to bullying at work, employers must provide a safe and healthy working environment under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This includes protecting employees from bullying and harassment at work. Under this and other legislation, employers must:

  • Assess the workplace for risks to mental health, such as bullying, harassment or intimidation;
  • Ensure there are control measures in place to avoid or reduce these risks as far as reasonably practicable;
  • Educate employees on respectful workplace behaviour and what could constitute bullying;
  • Have clear policies and procedures in place to address bullying behaviour, including reporting mechanisms and disciplinary actions;
  • Encourage reporting of incidents and an open-door policy;
  • Provide training to managers on how to promptly respond to and deal with conflicts;
  • Ensure that all employees have equal opportunities for recruitment, promotion, training, and other employment-related benefits, regardless of factors such as race, gender, age, disability, or religion;
  • Offer support to employees who have been bullied, including access to counselling or other resources.

If your employer has failed to fulfil their duty of care toward you and you had to deal with bullying at work, you may be able to take legal action and claim compensation for your pain and suffering.

Can workplace bullying lead to a personal injury claim?

If workplace bullying has resulted in physical or psychiatric injury, you may be able to make a compensation claim against your employer. A solicitor will help you start your claim on a no win no fee basis if they can prove the following:

  • Your employer owed you a duty of care – this is straightforward to prove by referring to the relevant workplace legislation.
  • They breached this duty through negligence – your solicitor must show that they have failed to provide a safe working environment and prevent bullying at work or allowed a hostile environment to persist. They could use evidence like witness statements, official complaints, your diary of incidents, or messages from the bully.
  • You suffered harm as a result – this will be proven based on medical evidence and documents of financial losses and expenses incurred as a result.

If you were the victim of bullying but your employer cannot be found liable, you may be able to make a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) as an alternative. This is something your solicitor will be able to discuss with you.

For free legal advice or more information about the signs of bullying in the workplace, do not hesitate to call 0800 678 1410 or use our online form to request a call back. You will receive a free consultation with an experienced legal adviser who will answer all your questions.

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