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Bullying & Harassment


B ullying does not pay. The actual costs of bullying in the workplace does not stop with the individual employer but spills over on to the national economy costing £millions plus every year. For the victim: it is necessary to know how to deal effectively with the bullying before it gets to a stage whereby his/her health and career are in ruins. For the employer: it is necessary to have anti-bullying/harassment polices displaying a zero tolerance towards bullying.

Although workplace bullying is effectively a health and health and safety issue, currently there is no singular piece of legislation dealing specifically with it. Any remedy under this head of claim would have to be connected to an unfair dismissal /breach of contract /discrimination claims.

Bullying is defined by ACAS as follows: “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behavior, an abuse or misuse of power through means designed to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”

Bullying may be overt or covert. Overt bullying is in the open while covert bullying is uncover and generally more difficult to detect and deal with.

Checklist of the bullying

  • Belittling remarks,
  • Demoralizing the staff, at the individual and collective level.
  • Putting undue pressure, shouting and threatening behavior
  • Refusing to delegate
  • Setting the victim/s up to fail by giving impossible targets
  • Unfair criticism
  • Taking credit for the victim/s efforts or achievements
  • Nasty, hurtful comments, name calling, teasing or joking at the victim/s expense
  • Withholding information
  • Purposely ignoring or leaving the victim/s out
  • Spreading rumors
  • Intrusions into the private life, embarrassing the victim/s
  • Encouraging customers/clients to make complaints against the victim/s.
  • Moods swing, from rage to smiles and back again. This list is not exhaustive.

Generally; apart from being power driven, bullies are manipulative, sneaky and have a general problem with boundaries.

  • Bullying generally has nothing to do with the victim’s performance but rather the bully’s   misuse or abuse of power.
  • The bully may be the boss, manager, supervisor, or work colleague working with or working under his/her victim/s.
  • The bully can come across as charming and confident and yet beneath the surface is a seriously unpleasant and often underhand character. S/he can be sweet as pie, wouldn’t hurt a fly kind of character with his/her superiors and other work colleagues all while making the daily working life of his/her victim a misery. The bully can also manipulate other work colleagues against his/her victim.  S/he is not just capable of speaking ill to the victim’s face but can also speak ill of the victim’s behind his/her back.
  • Bullies are generally living in denial. If confronted and feel themselves to be on the losing end they have a tendency towards the following: Blame the victim, deflect, use the “you too” arguments, threaten and so on. They can also claim victim hood for themselves, fly into a fit of rage. This list of tactics is not exhaustive.