Bullying and Harassment

by Andrew Wood

Cases where you feel bullied and/or harassed

Statistic

One in four people allege they are currently experiencing bullying.

Informal approaches

If you feel you can, try to talk to the person about how their behaviour is affecting you as they may be unaware of this. Work out exactly what you want to say beforehand. Describe what has been happening from your point of view; explain why you feel it is unacceptable and what they should do to resolve the situation. Ensure you stay calm and polite and remain objective.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.

Harvey S Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co, 1868–1938

Of course, you may not always feel confident enough to approach the person yourself. In this case, before taking any official action against an aggressor, it is worthwhile making an informal approach to somebody that you trust. This could, for example, be a manager (your own or another), an HR representative, health and safety officer or a union representative. As well as discussing possible methods of resolving the issue, this person should also be able to give you advice and help you to deal with the problem if you need to take it further.

Key point

Informal action is usually the best method of gaining a resolution.

If you feel other people may also be experiencing this, discuss the situation with them and make an informal approach together.

Do not allow yourself to become a victim: stand firm and keep as calm as possible. If necessary, take sick leave in which to recharge your emotional batteries. Talk to friends for support and consult with your doctor about counselling.

Keep records

Keep a record of incidents: write down the time, date, what occurred and what your feelings were at the time; also ensure you include your response to the harassment. This record may be crucial if you need to take things further.

Remember

It’s not your fault if you are on the receiving end of bullying and harassment!

If you receive written examples of bullying and/or harassment, ensure you keep them. These will support any action you may take in the future.

Find out if your employer has a policy relating to harassment or disciplinary procedures and follow the advice. If you raise a complaint, ensure you remain objective.

Once you have raised a complaint, continue to log further instances of harassment and keep those people from whom you have asked advice informed of all developments. Follow your organisation’s policies and procedures exactly and make sure that you are as helpful as possible throughout the process.

Taking it further

If you do decide to resign, let your organisation know that you are leaving because you have been bullied. It may well help others in future.

If you wish to pursue a legal claim against your employer for constructive dismissal or personal injury, seek advice from a legal representative or your union.

See the Want to know more page for details of organisations that offer help to both employers and employees.