If you have been a victim of bullying in the workplace, we can help you make a claim. Workplace bullying can be very traumatic and difficult to deal with it. It can not only make your working hours intolerable but may also make you feel constantly depressed and anxious.
While you are at work and doing your job, you have the right to feel safe. Although working practices have improved over the years, most of us have experienced or witnessed some form of bullying at work.
It may take the form of offensive, insulting and intimidating behaviour but may also escalate into physical abuse. The harassment may be directed towards a single individual or a group of people. Whether it is obvious or subtle, workplace bullying is unwelcome and unforgivable.
According to the Equality Act 2010, if your employer did not put a stop to bullying or they have caused it in the first place, they could be liable to pay you workplace bullying compensation.
If you believe you have been the victim of workplace bullying, you should seek legal advice. An expert solicitor will review your case and provide free advice about your options. If you have a valid claim, they will offer you a no win no fee service. That means you will not pay any solicitor fees unless you win compensation.
Can I make a workplace bullying compensation claim?
Constant exposure to bullying and harassment can lead to mental health problems that may need medical help and support. As a result, you may want to claim compensation for your pain, suffering, and associated financial losses.
If you believe you have a valid bullying at work claim, you should contact a solicitor. They will likely take your case if you have relevant evidence to prove the following:
- Harm – to make a personal injury claim, you need medical evidence that you suffered an actual physical or psychological injury due to bullying in the workplace.
- Cause – you must be able to prove that the harm you sustained was due to workplace bullying.
- Liability – to get compensation from your employer, you must show they were negligent in their duty of care towards you. This could be due to something they did (an action) or failed to do (an omission).
If you did not sustain a medically-provable physical or psychological injury, the chances of winning a work injury claim are practically zero. However, you could still have valid grounds to pursue a separate claim through employment law.
To be able to make a personal injury claim, you must start your claim within three years of your date of knowledge that bullying at work caused you an injury.
If you develop a severe condition such as PTSD or major depression, this might cause you to lose the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings by yourself. In this case, the three-year countdown is suspended until you recover, and a litigation friend could claim on your behalf during that period.
What is classed as harassment or workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying includes any offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour that violates an individual’s dignity and creates a hostile, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
In the past, you could not take legal action against such behaviour. Instead, if your employer or a colleague bullied you, you would have had to deal with it yourself. Nowadays, the Equality Act 2010 and similar legislation state that bullying in the workplace is a valid ground to take legal action and claim compensation.
According to the law, you could claim workplace bullying compensation if you are the victim of unwanted conduct related to one of the following:
- Age – for example, being denied an opportunity due to being too young or old is considered a form of bullying.
- Disability – receiving harsh treatment due to either a physical or mental disability. Employees with disabilities are at least twice as likely to experience one or more forms of bullying in the workplace.
- Gender reassignment – being humiliated and excluded or in any other way offended due to your gender choices is against the law.
- Marriage and civil partnership – being single, legally married, a common-law spouse, widowed, or divorced should make no difference in how you are treated at work.
- Pregnancy and maternity – according to government statistics, three in four mothers reported they had a possibly discriminatory experience during pregnancy or maternity leave.
- Race and ethnicity – this can play a significant role in bullying at work, with 29% of Black and Asian employees being the victims of harassment at work.
- Religion or beliefs – 3% of British employees say they have been victims of bullying in the workplace because of their religion or belief.
- Sex – sexism and sex-related harassment are typical issues. More than one in three women between 18 and 30 are regularly experiencing some level of bullying at work.
- Sexual orientation – nearly two in five (39%) of LGBT employees have been bullied by a colleague, more than one in four (29%) by a manager, and around one in seven (14%) by a client or patient.
If you were excluded or harassed based on any of these protected characteristics and consequently suffered an injury or illness, you might have a valid bullying at work claim. To be eligible for compensation, you might have to show that the unwanted behaviour:
- Occurred on at least two separate occasions
- Was targeted at a specific person or group of persons
- Was intended to cause distress, humiliation or an injury
- Was subjectively judged by the claimant as oppressive, offensive and unacceptable
To find out if you can take legal action and claim workplace bullying compensation, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Alternatively, fill in our online claim form to arrange a call back.
Examples of bullying in the workplace
Bullying at work can take many forms, and it is not always easy to recognise it straight away. It includes any act that may put you in an offensive, intimidating, degrading or humiliating environment. In the UK, nearly three in every ten employers have been the victims of some form of harassment, equating to 9.1 million of the UK workforce.
There are many ways in which bullying at work can occur, such as:
Face-to-face – is the most evident form of harassment and may happen in front of others or in private. It refers to any act, behaviour, or remark meant to harass, intimidate, humiliate, embarrass or threaten the other person.
Online bullying – due to advances in technology, cyberbullying is likely the most common form of harassment nowadays. Eight out of ten employees said they experienced online bullying at least once, and up to 20% experience it on a daily basis.
Examples of cyberbullying include:
- Offensive or threatening emails
- Spreading rumours or jokes on blogs and social media
- Posting private and personal details online
By phone – there are many methods of harassing someone by phone, including sending them abusive text messages, offensive photos or videos. You may also receive threatening or frightening phone calls or have your phone number posted online.
In writing – offensive acts related to one of the protected characteristics can also be carried out by writing notes, letters or emails.
There are many examples of harassment and behaviour types that may be labelled as bullying, whether they occur in person, online or in writing. Some good examples of workplace bullying include:
- Ignoring an employee’s views and opinions
- Setting unreasonable or unrealistic deadlines
- Deliberately overlooking certain employees for promotions and bonuses
- Being blamed for other people’s mistakes
- Being repeatedly threatened with losing your job
- Receiving unwelcome sexual advances
- Ridiculing or demeaning someone in front of colleagues or customers
- Intentionally excluding someone from group activities or emails
- Receiving constant and unconstructive criticism
- Making jokes about a person’s race, religion, disability or sexual orientation
- Spreading malicious rumours in an effort to damage someone’s reputation
There are many other less or more aggressive forms of bullying in the workplace. If you were the victim of any of the above or other similar scenarios linked to the protected characteristics of employees, you might be entitled to workplace bullying compensation.
What should I do if I’m being bullied at work?
If you have been in any way harassed or bullied at work, the most important thing you should do is take care of your health. It is well known that victims of bullying can feel anxious, threatened and humiliated. This can lead to frustration, anger, stress, depression and loss of self-esteem. In extreme circumstances, workplace bullying can lead to self-harm and even suicide.
Besides mental and psychological problems, the effects of bullying can also include physical symptoms, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Skin rashes
- Irritable bowel syndrome
If you are concerned about how the bullying in the workplace is affecting your wellbeing, you should speak to your GP and seek specialist advice as soon as possible. Getting early treatment and counselling can help you cope with the stress of being harassed and prevent you from developing an illness.
Getting the bullying to stop and holding the offender accountable are equally important. If you cannot solve the problem by asking the person to quit their bullying, you should talk with:
- Your employer or manager – they must listen to your concerns and take action to protect your health and safety.
- The human resources (HR) department – they should listen to you confidentially and have established procedures to deal with a formal complaint.
- Your trade union representative – trade union representatives should both educate members about bullying in the workplace and receive complaints about harassment and unwanted behaviour.
If this does not work, you could make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure. Regardless of the size of your business or organisation, your employer should investigate your situation and take action as soon as possible.
If they do not resolve your concern, you can use the documentation as evidence if you decide to make a bullying at work claim.
Other steps that you should take if you are dealing with bullying in the workplace include:
- Keep a diary of the incidents and write down details like the date, time, location and name of the offender.
- Note the contact details of any witnesses to the harassment. They might agree to give a statement if you decide to claim workplace bullying compensation.
- Keep track of how the bullying at work affected your daily life and any related financial losses or expenses. These may include medication and counselling costs, taking time off work and travel expenses to medical appointments.
- You should also report it to the police if you have been physically assaulted. In certain circumstances, you might also be able to claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
- Keep any communication such as SMS texts, emails, photographs or videos the bully used to harass you. These may serve as essential evidence in your claim.
What steps should my employer take to prevent workplace bullying?
Any type of workplace bullying can have devastating effects not only on an employee’s health but also on how a business operates. Furthermore, bullying at work costs the UK economy around £18 billion a year. Potential business implications include:
- Increased sickness absence
- An increase in staff turnover and training costs
- Decreased productivity and staff disengaging
- Negative workplace culture and a poor company reputation
- Poor employer-employee relations
- The management loses credibility
Employers are responsible for preventing this type of behaviour and are liable for any harassment and discrimination suffered by their employees. Every workplace should have a policy on workplace bullying and its legal implications, which should set out:
- What makes up harassment and bullying in the workplace
- How this type of behaviour can manifest in and outside the workplace
- How bullying can affect the victim
- How others can offer whistleblowing protection by exposing unjust behaviour at work
- The consequences of breaching the policy
- What steps an employee should take if they feel they are being bullied
Due to vicarious liability, an employer may be responsible for anyone who harasses, discriminates or victimises another employee. By law, they must take all reasonable measures to protect staff from bullying in the workplace, including:
- Employees and workers
- Contractors and self-employed individuals
- Job applicants
Employers should look into any complaint of bullying and take it seriously. This will show that you are devoted to making the workplace fair by helping to stop and prevent unwanted behaviour. That will give employees the confidence to raise their issues and might prevent legal action.
If an employee raises the issue of bullying in the workplace, employers should:
- Talk to the individual who raised the issue to understand it better and find an agreeable solution.
- Let them know about any available support, such as counselling through an employee assistance programme (EAP) or specialist external organisations.
- Listen to what the person has to say objectively, without making assumptions.
- Treat the issue confidentially and be aware of any sensibilities.
- Try to resolve the complaint informally by talking privately with the people involved.
- When informal methods fail, be ready to take disciplinary action if necessary.
If you believe your employer failed in their duty to protect you from bullying at work, you should seek legal advice. For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to claim workplace bullying compensation and answer any questions you may have.
How much compensation can I claim for bullying at work?
If your solicitor believes you have a valid claim, they will consider all the impacts of bullying to calculate a suitable compensation award. Your settlement will include:
- Lost earnings, if you had to take time off work or leave your job due to the bullying
- Medical expenses linked to any medication or treatment you had to undergo
- Costs of ongoing counselling and psychological support
- Travel costs to and from medical appointments, tribunals or meetings about your claim
- Costs of care and assistance
Besides compensation for any out-of-pocket expenses you incurred, your claim will also cover general damages such as:
- Mental and psychological impacts including stress, anxiety, depression or fear
- Physical pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Inability to pursue a hobby or social event
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
According to the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines, you could receive the following compensation awards for psychiatric damage:
- £54,830 to £115,730 for severe psychiatric damage that prevents the victim from returning to work, forming relationships and coping with daily life, with little hope of recovery in the future
- £19,070 to £54,830 for a moderately severe psychiatric injury resulting in an inability to return to work. The prognosis is more optimistic but will somehow affect the victim’s life in a permanent or long-standing way.
- £5,860 to £19,070 for moderate symptoms that have affected daily life, work and relationships. There is medical evidence of a good ability to cope with trauma and a good prognosis.
- £1,540 to £5,860 for less severe psychiatric damage where the symptoms may resolve within 12 months and have mildly affected daily activities and sleep quality.
There are separate compensation awards for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) claims:
- £56,180 to £94,470 for permanent effects of trauma preventing the individual from functioning as before
- £21,730 to £56,180 for PTSD causing significant disability but with a better future prognosis
- £7,680 to £21,730 when the individual has recovered substantially, and any lasting effects are not grossly disabling
- £3,710 to £7,680 for virtually full recovery made within two years, with minor symptoms that could persist for longer
Each bullying at work claim is unique, and your solicitor will work with you to understand precisely how the situation affected you. They will then try to secure the maximum amount of compensation you may be entitled to.
Can workplace bullying claims be made using no win no fee?
Yes, if you have a valid workplace bullying claim, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee service. Due to its many advantages, no win no fee (also known as a conditional fee agreement) is typically the preferred way of funding a personal injury claim. These advantages include the following:
- You can claim compensation regardless of your financial situation and without taking any risks.
- Your solicitor will handle all the aspects of your claim so you can focus on your health and wellbeing without going through additional stress.
- Your solicitor will provide support and advice without you having to pay them any upfront fees.
- If you lose your workplace bullying compensation claim, you do not have to pay your solicitor anything.
- You get a free medical assessment of your symptoms and recovery prospects, which will serve as an essential piece of evidence in your claim.
- Your solicitor will negotiate the maximum settlement you can receive on your behalf.
In a no win no fee claim, you only have to pay anything if you receive compensation. This way, you can be sure you have a valid claim, and your solicitor will do their best to win your case.
The fee, known as a success fee, will be deducted from your compensation award and paid to your solicitor for winning your workplace bullying claim. This will be thoroughly discussed with you before taking on your claim and cannot exceed 25% of your compensation.
To find out if you may be eligible for a no win no fee bullying at work claim, call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser. Or, if you prefer, enter your details into our online claim form to arrange a call back.