BULLYING AND HARASSMENT

THE LAW

HR & Diversity Management Ltd have released a Paper called BULLYING AT WORK. A STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR EMPLOYERS. It is an informative document which details a guide both on a) how to deal with a contentious situation and b) how to implement anti-bullying policies and procedures. It covers, in detail, grievance and disciplinary guidelines in accordance with The Employment Act 2002 and contains up to date laws and recommendations ; including the DTI Michael Gibbons Review, written in 2007.

The document is available FREE of chage. Email : chris@HRmgt.co.uk or contact www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk

PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT ACT 1997 ss.1 and 3

There is no UK legislation specifically to protect those who may be suffering, or have suffered, from bullying at work. This does not mean they have no legal protection. It does mean, however, that to get legal protection or redress they must look to the parts of related employment law, which may be relevant, or to the general law and/or the Acts detailed below:

1. Employment and Employment related law (click on relevant heads below for more detail).

(i) the Sex Discrimination Act 1975;
(ii) the Race Relations Act 1976 (see RACIAL DISCRIMINATION );
(iii) Employment Rights Act 1996 (especially the parts dealing with unfair dismissal , constructive dismissal and victimisation );
(iv) the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and related personal injury aspects (see e.g.Health & Safety at work/stress );
(v) Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (see CRIMINAL LAW ASPECTS/offences under employment legislation/intimidation );
(vi) Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998;
(vii) contract law (see e.g.wrongful dismissal and implied terms in employment contracts/duties of employer ).

2. General Law

(i) Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994; and
(ii) Public Order Act 1986;
(iii) Protection from Harassment Act 1997 s.1 and Protection from Harassment Act 1997 s.3.
(iv) Human Rights/Human Rights Act 1998 .There is an implied term in employment contracts that "the employer shall render reasonable support to an employee to ensure that the employee can carry out the duties of his job without harassment and disruption by fellow workers" (Arnold J. in Wigan Borough Council v Davies 1979 ICR 411, quoted with approval by the House of Lords in Waters v Commissioner of Metropolitan Police 2000 ICR 1064, HL In the Waters case the House of Lords also quoted Spring v Guardian Assurance plc 1994 ICR 596 and Wetherall (Bond Street W1) Ltd v. Lynn [1978] 1 WLR 200 as authority for the proposition that the Courts recognise a common law duty on an employer to take care of his employees, including a duty to prevent ill treatment or bullying, quite apart from statutory requirements. As always, the position in any particular case will depend on the facts and the House of Lords was careful to point out that "it is not every course of victimisation or bullying by fellow employees which would give rise to a cause of action against the employer, and an employee may have to accept some degree of unpleasantness from fellow workers. Moreover the employer will not be liable unless he knows or ought to know that the harassment is taking place and fails to take reasonable steps to prevent it". Bullying at Work is a topical problem in the professions as well as in industry (see for example Jones v Tower Boot Co Ltd 1997 ICR 254, CA and the newspaper report of a firm of Manchester solicitors settling for £50,000 a bullying/sex harassment claim brought by a trainee (The Times, 28th October 1997). Useful books on the subject include "Harassment, Bullying and Violence at Work" (Ishmael and Alemoru, published by the Industrial Society at £16.99) and "Bully in Sight" (£12.95) by Tim Field (who also runs the general Bullying at Work web site. ACAS (see ACAS ) publish two advisory leaflets titled "Bullying and harassment at work", one being "Guidance for employees" and the other "A guide for managers and employers". There is also a relevant legal web site at www.harassment-law.co.uk run by a barrister (Neil Addison) and solicitor (Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden).

STATISTICS

TUC Press Release of 14th February 2000

The Press Release noted above notes a survey sponsored by the TUC and the CBI carried out by the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). The survey states that 47% of Britain's employees have witnessed workplace bullying, that 10% have been bullied within the last six months and that bullying currently causes the loss of 18 million working days every year.

The UMIST study was based on findings from a national sample of 5,300 respondents from 70 organisations.

CASE STUDIES

Swansea County Council –v- Joy Pugh : 7 November 2001

Former secretary, Joy Pugh, was awarded £90,000 damages at Swansea County Court for injury to health resulting from bullying and harassment by her boss, the Unison Welsh regional secretary Derek Gregory. Over a six-year period Ms Pugh endured persistent rudeness, shouting, exaggeration of alleged faults, and attempts to engineer mistakes. Mr Gregory's assistant Beverley Cole was also accused of bullying. The repeated bullying and harassment resulted in Ms Pugh suffering panic attacks, depression, sleepless nights, and loss of libido and loss of self-confidence. [Full story]

Mercury Mobile Communications Services  -v- Long : 4 May 2001.

Establishes a precedent of one stress breakdown rather than the two stress breakdowns required by the judgment in Walker v. Northumberland County Council. Jeffery Long was a successful telephone procurement manager with no previous history of psychiatric injury. He was asked to provide a confidential report, which implicated his line manager, Simon Stone, in mismanagement. The report was disclosed to his line manager who then immediately carried out a "vendetta" against Mr Long with the probable intent of driving him out of the company. This vendetta involved wrongfully blaming him for the mismanagement, taking important procurement contracts from him, making unfounded allegations against him, of abusing customers and breach of confidence resulting in suspension and placing orders without authority. The Claimant complained to the Personnel Manager about this conduct but not about the effect it was having upon him. The Personnel Manager in turn complained to the Managing Director who did nothing because he favoured Stone. Eventually, the Claimant was separated from Stone by being demoted. Mr Long suffered an adjustment reaction. The Defendants had to admit liability on the third day of the trial and fought damages. The Judge expressed his agreement with the Defendant's admission and went on to award £327,000.00 damages with indemnity costs. For full press release click here.

Somerset County Council –v- Alan Barber : 9 March 2001

Former math’s department head Alan Barber has been awarded £100,000 damages for stress suffered whilst at East Bridgewater School in Somerset. The court heard how Mr Barber suffered depression following "brusque, autocratic and bullying" behaviour of head teacher Margaret Hayward. A restructuring exercise meant that Mr Barber's workload increased but resources were withdrawn. Despite being alerted, the school responded unsympathetically and did nothing to alleviate the situation. Somerset County Council has appealed.

West Glamorgan Fire Service –v- John Richards: 21 February 2000

Former firefighter John Richards from Neath, Glamorgan, South Wales, accepted a record six-figure damages believed to be in excess of £150K for psychiatric injury caused by bullying and victimisation by fellow firefighters at West Glamorgan Fire Service. The focus of the victimisation appeared to be one senior officer who was described by the occupational health doctor as "a fascist bastard" and by a counsellor as "a pig" (Daily Mail, 22 Feb 2000, p23).

Test Valley Borough Council –v- Susan Claydon : 11 January 2000

Former senior housing benefits officer Roderick McLeod accepted £200,000 in an out-of-court settlement for psychiatric injury culminating in a stress breakdown caused, he alleged, by bullying, harassment and abuse of his line manager Susan Claydon at Test Valley Borough Council in Andover, Hampshire, England.

Noonan –v- Liverpool City Council : 8th July 1999

Cathy Noonan accepted an £84,000 out-of-court settlement from her former employers Liverpool City Council. Mrs Noonan was subjected to isolation (being sent to Coventry for 9 months), excessive supervision, being monitored at home whilst on sick leave, and criticisms about alleged lack of time-keeping. The former home help supervisor gained the impression that her manager was fuelled by jealousy and envy. In the Daily Mail, 8 July 1999, Ms Noonan is quoted as saying that "she [the alleged bully] did it in such a way that you couldn't actually put a finger on it. I would say that her barbs hit the target every time but she never left a trace." Mrs Noonan went on sick leave in 1995 and took ill-health retirement in 1997. She was supported by her union Unison.

Birmingham City Council –v- Mrs Beverley Lancaster: 5th July 1999

History was made in the field of Employment Law when a former Council employee was awarded £67,491 compensation for stress at work.  It is the first time an employer has accepted liability for personal injury caused by stress and the first time the courts have awarded damages for work stress. The award covers loss of wages, loss of future earnings and the cost of prescription charges.   Birmingham City Council were also ordered to pay costs for both parties, which are estimated to be in the region of a further £60,000.

Unison are preparing a further 7,000 similar cases.

Without doubt, employees who bully colleagues at work, in your organisation, are a liability !

INFORMATION CONTAINED IN ‘Working With Bullies’

·        Bullying In General

·        Company Support

·        Tell-tale signs of a bully

·        Bullying statistics and the cost to the State

·        Case Studies

·        Legislation

·        What the Experts say and a 10 point survival plan

·        Dealing with a Complaint.  A Checklist and Step-by-Step Guide

·        Dealing with a Complaint.  Litigation

·        Dealing with a Complaint. A Company Policy.

·        Example Harassment Policy for your Company

Prevention is better than cure.

For a copy of HR Management’s ‘Working With Bullies’ please email chris@HRmgt.co.uk  providing your name and address.

Confidentiality will be respected. 

PERSONALISED, COMPANY, SEMINARS.

IF your organisation would benefit from a professional presentation on the subject of workplace bullying, HR & Diversity Management Ltd can organise this for you.  For an informal discussion, contact HR Management directly on Tel: 01793 338888 or Mobile: 07734 701221.  We would be pleased to quote for a half day or full day, to suit your business needs.

INDEPENDENT COMPANY INVESTIGATIONS

IF your organisation needs to call on an independent person to investigate workplace bullying, HR & Diversity Management Ltd would be pleased to help.   Contact HR & Diversity Management on Tel: 01793 338888 or Mobile: 07734 701221 directly for a quotation  (half day or full day, to suit your business needs).

OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS

ACAS Advisory Service

South West Region

Regent House, 27a Regent Street, Clifton, Bristol. BS8 4HR

Tel: 0117 9469 503  Fax: 0117 9238 110

www.acas.org.uk

Adult Bullying Clampdown

Support group in Northern Ireland:

www.successunlimited.co.uk/bully/ireland.htm#ABC

Dignity At Work Now (DAWN)

www.dignityatworknow.org.uk

The late Tim Field's website, bullyonline, is presently being hosted by us. It is a facinating website that was written by dear Tim some time ago now - but it is years ahead of it's time and is a source of great comfort and information for many people today. We will ensure it remains hosted, and live, for many years to come.

If you would like a copy of Tims' book ; Bully In Sight, call us today on 017923 338888

www.bullyonline.org/bio.htm