Bullying at Work
ACAS give the following definition of bullying: ’Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient'.
Surprisingly, there is still no law at present dealing with bullying at work in the UK. However, it is possible to bring a claim for discriminatory harassment under the Equality Act 2010 where the conduct in question relates to protected characteristic of the employee concerned such as sex, race, religion or age.
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
If there is no element of discrimination in the bullying, the employee could make a claim against their employer under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Essentially, the employee must show that unwanted conduct has taken place towards them on two or more occasions, the conduct usually being of almost a criminal nature such as verbally threatening the employee. Employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees and do not have the statutory defence available for discrimatory harassment claims in that if the employer can prove that they took such steps that were reasonably practical to prevent harassment from occurring then the employer will not be liable. A claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 must be brought in the Courts and has a 6 year limitation period.