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Employment Law

Bullying at Work

Susie Al-Qassab
Susie Al‑Qassab
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Natalie Wellock
Ellen Clabburn
Ellen Clabburn
Alexandra Pekanac
Alexandra Pecanac

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can have a devastating impact on morale, self-confidence and mental health.

If you’re being bullied and harassed by someone you work with, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Our expert employment law specialists can help you take action against this unacceptable behaviour.

It is also important to note that bullying and harassment does not only occur face-to-face and can be in the form of writing, emails, phone calls or on social media. Not all acts of bullying or harassment are obvious as some may be subtle but are nonetheless devastating for the victim.

What is bullying in the workplace?

There are steps you can take to stop bullying at work. Our employment law solicitors know how distressing it can be and damaging to your confidence. Mental health and general self-esteem.

Sometimes employers do not take claims of bullying seriously or fail to act appropriately to stop the harassment from happening. If this is your experience then you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation to seek damages for pain and suffering.

Bullying at work can take a number of different forms. It can include rudeness, arguments, physical confrontation, inappropriate criticism. being given unmanageable workloads can also be a form of bullying as it may lead to psychological harm and make you unhappy and unable to manage.

Bullying can lead to mental health issues including anxiety and depression. You may be in a part of a team and feel you are treated differently from your other colleagues. We know that some people are more at risk than others. Statistics show that women experience a higher level of bullying than men.

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What forms of bullying at work could I claim compensation for?

The term bullying is encompassed within a number of different types of harassment at work. These different types are defined within the Equality Act 2010. Here are some examples which may be covered by the Act, they include:

  • Impacting on and harming your career progression
  • Receiving ongoing criticism and being undermined by managers and team members can be construed as harassment
  • Unequal treatment – everyone has the right to be treated equally and fairly at work
  • Offensive statements – making jokes to be hurtful or using offensive words is a very recognisable form of bullying at work
  • Rumours and gossip spread with malicious intent

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What is harassment & bullying?


Harassment is defined by the Equality Act 2010 as unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, degrading or hostile environment for that person. Protected characteristics could be age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.


Bullying isn’t defined by law, but is characterised by offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour which undermines or humiliates an employee. This can be through the abuse or misuse of power and can take many forms.

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How can our employment law experts help you?

Work with you

Our dedicated team of employment lawyers can discuss any issues involving bullying or harassment in the workplace. We’ll work with you to understand your objectives.

Our solicitors can advise you

We can advise you on whether the behaviour is unlawful and help you to have an informal conversation with your employer, and or assist and guide you through your employer’s grievance process. If appropriate, we can help you to pursue a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Keep you informed

Throughout the process our solicitors will keep you up to date through your preferred option.

Our team of solicitors are experts in helping employees make claims in a number of situations:

  • Racist, sexist or homophobic behaviour
    Unwanted sexual advances
  • Constant criticism and victimisation
  • Disproportionate micromanagement and unmanageable work loads
  • Unjustified threats about job security
  • Intentional blocks to promotion
  • Exclusion and being ignored

"Thank you for resolving so quickly and for keeping me informed of any updates."

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Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?

Lawyers who are experts

Our team understands the legal complexities involved and we are experts in handling bullying and harassment claims across many different industry sectors.

Solicitors who understand

We appreciate how daunting it can be for an individual to come forward, when they might be deeply upset about their treatment or worried about their career prospects. Our solicitors go out of their way to ensure our clients feel supported and advised every step of the way. We know that each case is different and we pride ourselves on our caring, highly personalised approach.

Lawyers who fight your corner

You should never have to accept bullying or harassment whilst at work. Your employer has a duty of care to protect you from such behaviour in the workplace. If you make a complaint about bullying or harassment then your employer should conduct a prompt and objective investigation.

“It’s very hard to put into words how thankful I am for your guidance and support through-out the dispute process and of course reaching a good outcome."

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What outcome can I expect?

If you decide to take a claim to the Employment Tribunal then you may be able to secure compensation, an apology and push for changes in working practice to prevent further incidents in future.

Another option may be to negotiate an exit from your employer by way of a Settlement Agreement and we can guide you through this process.

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Featured case

She instructed us following threats by her employer that it would initiate a capability procedure and alleged performance issues against her. Her employer gave her the option to leave the organisation with notice pay and avoid being performance managed or stay and risk being dismissed for capability reasons.

We advised our client to raise a grievance, complaining of the bullying and harassment she had been subjected to. We contested allegations of under performance on her behalf.

Outcome: Within three weeks, we secured a mutual termination for her for a significant sum.

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Frequently asked questions

Can I still claim if my colleagues/employer say it is just ‘banter’?

Your employer may try to argue that the behaviour was ‘banter’ that occurs regularly. Whilst banter is all well and good there may well be instances where someone crosses the line and it becomes bullying or harassment.

If you engage in such banter, then it may make is more difficult for you to argue that your feel offended by the comments. However, if the behaviour has suddenly become personal to you and is causing you distress then contact us for advice on your rights.

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