Bullying and discrimination in the work place happens far too often. It can happen to anyone at any level, in any organisation and for any reason. In cases of bullying and discrimination, it can affect anyone in an organisation from a Chief Officer in a large public organisation to a part-time Office Manager and a factory worker in a small company.
Bullying can sometimes occur because of personality clashes or as a direct result of discrimination. Discrimination can take many forms, from the obvious to the more discrete. There are nine protected characteristics which can form the basis of discrimination. These are:
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Gender reassignment
In addition part-time employees can be subject to a detriment on the basis of their working hours.
Disability (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) is far wider than the general everyday use of this term, and includes anything from depression to diabetes or cancer, depending on the effect the condition has.
For employees in higher management position, they may find that mental health concerns can be unfairly viewed as weaknesses. There have been many recent examples of this. In a recent matter, the employer took the view that the employee was no longer capable of his role after returning to work following his period of absence. That individual was subjected to significant bullying following time off for depression.
It is important that as an employee, you know your options when dealing with bullying in the workplace. Any employee needs to seek advice urgently regarding a grievance, where necessary, and to be supported throughout the process. If, as an employee, you are dismissed or you feel there is no other option but to resign, you need advice on the appropriate claims and someone to represent you all the way. If you’re an employer, you must be aware of the matters as described above that can bring risk to your business or organisation and to ensure that you have proper procedures and processes in place for issues like these to be dealt with. It is important to ensure all employees are aware of these procedures, including how they can raise concerns.