Bullying at work includes behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable or intimidated, and can include being picked on, unfairly treated, blamed for problems, threatened with the sack and being passed over for promotion.

Harassment occurs when an employee suffers unwanted conduct by the employer (or its staff) which has the purpose or effect of violating the employee's dignity or creating an "intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment" for them.

As an employer, unless you take “reasonable steps” to prevent the behaviour from occurring, for instance by publishing and implementing anti-harassment policies or by providing staff training, you will be held liable for any act of harassment committed by an employee.

When there is no intention to harass, an act will only be considered harassment if it should "reasonably" be considered such - so hyper-sensitive employees will not always be protected.  But it is a complex area that often involves other claims, in particular claims of discrimination of one sort or another.

If you have an employee bringing a claim against you, or raising issues of bullying and harassment, we will help you decide what your response should be and what ongoing actions you need to put into place in your organisation to reduce the risk of successful claims being made against you in the future.

Our specialist team of employment lawyers work with organisations to create effective, anti-bullying and harassment policies and procedures, as well as litigating and preparing defences against claims concerning bullying and harassment.  We can also provide tailored anti-harassment and anti-bullying training for all levels of employees to maximise your chance of the “reasonable steps” defence working, if a claim is brought against your business.If you have been suffering from bullying and/ or harassment at work we will help you analyse the situation and decide whether you have grounds to bring a claim.  This involves some detailed consideration of the background facts and the interaction of bullying and harassment with other claims such as discrimination or whistle blowing.

Our specialist team of employment lawyers also advises clients at senior levels working in all industries from the creative to the financial services sector and helps them to take control of the situation.  Our lawyers are strong negotiators and will help you through all stages from grievances to employment tribunal litigation.

We have leading employment law experts who are members of forums including the Employers Forum on Age, as well as authors of articles on employment tribunal reform and race discrimination.

For more information please contact Richard Fox at rfox@kingsleynapley.co.uk.

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