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Harassment and bullying

Harassment and bullying

Bullying at work can take several forms and employees don't always understand what constitutes bullying and harassment and how to handle a grievance.

Bullying and harassment can be overt, for example being shouted at, ganged upon, physically assaulted, or verbally belittled - or covert, such as being cold-shouldered, ignored, or being made to feel left out.  It is unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended and/or conduct that violates that person's dignity or creates a hostile environment.

It can be difficult to prove as often it is not carried out in the presence of others and you may not feel comfortable complaining about a work colleague or manager but, if you do not complain using work grievance procedures or within a reasonable period of time you may find that you are barred from bringing a discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal (if it is because of a protected characteristic) which is subject to strict time limits.

If you believe you are being bullied or harassed you should;

  • Approach the person directly: It may be possible to resolve the issue informally by speaking directly to the person you feel is bullying you. This may work where that person is genuinely unaware of the effect that their conduct is having.

  • Speak to your manager: If this isn't appropriate, consider approaching the person at the next level above the bully; they may be able to deal with the situation by speaking to that person.

  • Seek advice from your trade union: If you are a trade union member, you can seek the help, advice and support of your union representative.

  • Put your grievance in writing: Failing these, enter a written grievance. The employer will be under a duty to investigate this, and may be able to take steps to end the conduct.

  • Consider legal action: If you are not happy with the outcome of the grievance process or you employer is failing to deal with the problem, you may need to consider legal action.  You cannot bring a legal claim directly of bullying.  However, you may have grounds for a discrimination or harassment claim and if you are forced to resign because of the way you have been treated you may have grounds for a constructive dismissal claim.  Take legal advice first and beware, there are strict time-limit for taking action in an Employment Tribunal, usually three months from the date of the act complained of.


Talk to our solicitors 

Discuss your situation with us over the phone with our friendly solicitors who in employment law and are experienced in resolving all kinds of issues at work. Call us on 0117 456 6020. We're here to help Monday to Friday 8.30am - 6pm.