Bullying can take a number of different forms and is not always obvious, both to the victim, and those around them. Bullying in the workplace tends to be more subtle than the bullying we perhaps recall from the playground. It could be that you are excluded from a meeting or social event, you may be on the other end of rude comments or the subject of a malicious rumour.
Workplace bullying is commonly referred to as harassment. The behaviour could relate to a person’s sexuality, race, disability, or any particular characteristic for that matter. Whatever behaviour you experience at work, if it is unwelcome or unwarranted, then you may be the victim of bullying.
So what do you do when the playground bully grows up and gets a job?
If you are an employee then do not just suffer in silence. Raise the issue with your employer. That can be easier said than done and the first step may be to talk to your family, friends or a close colleague about the problem.
It may well be possible for you to try and resolve the problem direct with the bully. They may not have realised how their behaviour is affecting you and pointing this out to them may resolve the problem.
Ultimately, if you want the problem to be resolved then you may have no option but to bring the matter to the attention of your employer. You can do this informally if you wish but most employers have a formal grievance procedure which will set out what you need to do if you have a complaint relating to your employment.
If you cannot resolve the situation then you may find yourself considering leaving your employment and/or taking legal action. In that case you should consider taking legal advice to fully understand your options.
If you are an employer then look to adopt an “open door policy” and encourage employees to report any bullying that may be going on. Employers should look for signs of bullying and tackle any issues with appropriate disciplinary action.
Workplace bullying can have a serious negative effect in the workplace and both employees and employers should work together to ensure that it does not go on.
If you are in doubt about your rights as an employee or your responsibilities as an employer you should look to take legal advice.
Gian Floris is a Solicitor with QualitySolicitors Gould & Swayne based in Wells
Legal advice may vary with the circumstances of each case - be sure to take your solicitor’s advice.