Bullying and Harassment

/Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and Harassment 2018-04-25T15:39:24+00:00

Bullying in the Workplace Grievance Complaint Letter Example

www.letterofgrievance.com is a dedicated website to aid employees who are being subjected to either bullying in the workplace, bullying at work, harassment in the workplace, workplace harassment or bullying and harassment. A letter of grievance is also available for those employee’s who are considering writing a letter of grievance to their employer to enter the grievance procedure.

What is Bullying and how is it different to Harassment?

Harassment is ‘related to’ a protected ground, which you have such as your race, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion etc,.

Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 is the section which covers unlawful harassment ‘related to’ a ‘protected characteristic‘.

Bullying is not ‘related to’ a protected characteristic.

However, being subjected to either bullying or harassment is unwanted, uninvited and unwelcome conduct, which has the purpose and effect of creating a hostile, intimidating and oppressive environment, in which to work. Bullying and harassment is also undignified. You want to make sure you put this in your letter of grievance to your manager / employer.

Below is the legal definition of ‘harassment’:-

The Equality Act 2010 – Definition of Harassment at Work

The Equality Act 2010 defines “harassment as: “unwanted conduct” which must have the “purpose or effect” of:

1. “Violating the victim recipients dignity” or:-

2. “Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim recipient”.

Vento Scale:

If you believe you have been harassed, then make sure that you state so in your letter of grievance to your employer. Equally as important, state within your letter of grievance how your harasser’s ‘unwanted conduct’ made you ‘feel’. This is the most important thing you can do, as injury to feelings on the ‘Vento Scale’ can payout (in exceptional cases) over £42,000.

As of September 2017 – the Vento Scale has been increased as follows –

  • lower band (less serious cases): £800 to £8,400
  • middle band: £8,400 to £25,200
  • upper band (the most serious cases): £25,200 to £42,000
  • exceptional cases: over £42,000

How to stop workplace bullying and harassment?

Your letter of grievance needs to provide facts and information germane to your grievances to your employer for bullying and/or harassment. The Grievance Letter Template Aid for £12 assists you in formultating your grievances to the legal wording of the law i.e The Equality Act 2010 and HSAWA 1974.

You need to outline within your letter of grievance what the conduct was, which was unwanted, uninvited and unwelcome to you.

You need to outline within your letter of grievance what was said or done, which was undignified, or amounted to bullying / harassment.

You need to outline in your grievance letter how the unwanted conduct created a hostile, oppressive, and intimidating environment for you to either work or communicate with the bully / harasser.

You need to outline within your grievance letter the date/s the incident/s of bullying / harassment took place.

You need to state within your grievance letter whom was present at the material time/s the bullying and/or harassment took place.

You need to ask your employer within your letter of grievance to observe and recommendations within The Statutory Code of Practice on Employment, with express particular Chapter 7, which covers harassment.

Once your employer receives your grievance complaint letter for bullying / harassment, it is incumbent upon your employer to take reasonable steps to prevent further acts of disruption and harassment from occuring – Caniffe v East Riding of Yorkshire Council (2000, IRLR 555, EAT). In the event your employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent further acts of bullying and/or harassment, then your employer may be vicariously liable for the on-going harassment.

Under s.109(1)(2)(3)(4)(a)(b) of the Equality Act 2010, the employer is liable for the conduct of its officers, servants, agents and employees’ if the employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the harassment. Reasonable steps the employer could take is to provide regular training to promote, champion and embed its Bullying & Harassment Policy; Dignity at Work Policy and Equalities Policies and Procedures into the workforce at large. If you can prove that the employer has been negligent in not communicating its policies and procedures through regular training (bi-annually), then you will have your employer on the backfoot.

For the avoidance of doubt, pursuant to s.110(1)(a)(b)(c)(2) and s.112(1) of the Equality Act 2010, the harasser is personally liable for their own conduct. When I sued my wife’s employer, I also sued my wife’s line manager too. Moreover, those persons who the line manager had engaged to also ‘mob’ my wife (google workplace mobbing) were also held to account pursuant to s.111 of the Equality Act 2010. Put short, it was unlawful for my wife’s line manager to instruct, cause or induce other employees to be participants in the acts of harassment.

Employment Tribunal – Balance of Probabilities:

In truth, it is rare that an employee will have ‘evidence’ of bullying at work, to which s/he has been subjected – Glasgow City Council v. Zafar [1998] ICR 120. Harassment in the workplace is usually subtle, the harasser careful to make sure there are no witnesses to workplace bullying. Fortunately, Employment Tribunals recognise this, and take it into account. However, you still have to establish a ‘balance of probabilities’ case within your letter of grievance for bullying and/or harassment. It is my own experience that workplace bullying and harassment occurs due to mismanagement, poor management, or weak management. Often, senior management have little resolve to confront the harasser, or more likely than not, are the harasser themselves.

Place the Onus on your Employer

Should you chose to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim due to workplace harassment or discrimination in the workplace, the onus is on the employee to establish facts, that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ what you have alleged in your ET1 [employment tribunal claim] has actually occurred – Igen v Wong Court of Appeal [2005] IRLR 258. This is different to let’s say a criminal trial, whereas ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ has to be established.

The Employment Tribunal recognises that the employer will unlikely “concede” any liability of the alleged “torts” (wrongs). The employer will attempt to establish that the claimant’s claim does not have any “merit”. The employer will allege that your ET1 is “misconceived” throwing out as much as it can. Remember, the onus is on the employee to “shift the burden of proof “on to the employer by outlining a prima facie case for discrimination.

Grievance Letter Examples

Below are two examples of a hypothetical incident of ‘sexual harassment in the workplace’. Another more in depth letter of grievance example germane to work related stress, harassment and disability discrimination is available at www.formalgrievance.com.

The first grievance example is a bad example of what to state within your letter of grievance, as it does not establish how you (the victim recipient) felt:-

“Mr Shart grabbed his crotch and told me he wanted to give me a large portion later. I was somewhat taken back, as my workplace colleagues just stood there laughing at me.”

Good grievance letter example:

“I found Shart’s conduct to be unwanted, uninvited and unwelcome. I felt his actions were deliberately undertaken, the purpose and effect of which was to wilfully embarrass me, which he did embarrass me. I found Shart’s statement that he wanted to give me a large portion to be most offensive, and most undignified. The fact that my workplace colleagues just stood there laughing at me left me feeling humiliated. Mr Shart’s conduct was wholly inappropriate. I am not sure what made him believe that his behaviour was acceptable to me. However, I felt by my colleagues laughing at me, they condoned Shart’s conduct. This incident created a hostile, opressive and intimidating environment for me.”

In the good example above, the wording encompasses the legal definition of “harassment”. You have informed your employer that (i) you found Shart’s conduct unwanted, uninvited and unwelcome (ii) you felt embarrassed (iii) you found Shart’s conduct to be offensive and undignified (iv) you have established the fact that you felt humiliated (v) that in no way did you encourage Shart to behave in the manner he did; Shart acted of his own volition, and of his own accord (vi) you felt your colleagues condoned Shart’s conduct by their failure to stop him.

Unlawful Victimisation:

In the good example of harassment in the workplace, you have made it difficult for your employer to point the finger of blame at you, as to do so may amount to the employer subjecting you to unlawful ‘victimisation’ for having exercised a statutory right in lodging a letter of grievance.

Pursuant to s.27(1)(2) EqA 2010, it is unlawful for an employer, its officers, servants, agents and employees’ to victimise you for submitting a grievance letter. If you have been victimised for having raised a grievance, then contact me.

Workplace Banter

However, from my own experiences, your employer will undoubtedly seek to place some portion of the blame on to you, to both limit its liability, and discredit you. It will allege that you were horsing around, and that Shart’s conduct was merely ‘harmless banter’. The employer may even insinuate that you in someway encouraged Mr Shart’s behaviour, and that Shart was only reacting to you ‘egging him on’ in front of your workplace colleagues. Notwithstanding, unless you are able to ‘establish facts’ from which the Employment Tribunal could conclude that harassment has taken place, your claim is worthless. This is why it is so very important that you get your ducks in a row before you lodge your letter of grievance. (see: grievance letter template aid). If you need help in writing your letter of grievance, contact me via email – samstone@formalgrievance.com

Webmaster’s thoughts:

1. When it comes to workplace bullying and harassment, the law is quite clear. It is what the “victim recipient” finds to be offensive, undignified, embarrassing, degrading, hostile or intimidating. It is NOT for your employer to decide how YOU [FELT]. Each person knows what they feel is “harmless banter” and also, the behaviour which is not acceptable to them.

2. You need a plan of action. Gather all the evidence and facts BEFORE you lodge your grievance letter. Once the employer’s grievance procedure is invoked, your employer will appoint an investigating officer who will endeavour to limit the organisations liability. Remember, the appointed investigator is there to protect the organisation – not you! You will have no control over the appointed investigator, or the questions s/he will ask your workplace colleagues, or how that person goes about investigating what you have alleged. Keep in mind the investigator is also an employee, and will not jeopardise their own career by finding any “evidence” of bullying and harassment, which may have occurred, or which you have outlined within your letter of grievance for bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation.

3. So, before your write a grievance letter to invoke the grievance procedure, obtain ‘witness statements‘ from your colleagues. You want short statements, giving the date, the time, the place, what the harasser stated, and who else was present. Get the person to sign and date their witness statement, and provide their name and address.

4. From my own experiences, your colleagues will put as much distance between you and them once the grievance investigation gets underway. They will not want to become embroiled in your grievance, or risk losing their own job  – forewarned is forearmed!

5. I obtained evidence before lodging my letter of grievance by recording my line manager on my mobile telephone. I got a mate of mine at work who was also an employee to record my line manager sexually harassing me. This way, I had all the evidence to hand prior to lodging my grievance letter that harassment had taken place. The legality of making covert recordings is outlined in the £16 Template available on this website, including case law.

Legal Definition of Harassment

The legal definition of harassment under S.26 of the Equality Act 2010 is the following:

“Unwanted conduct” which must relate to one of the following “Protected Characteristics”

i. sex

ii. sex orientation

iii. race

iv. disability

v. age

vi. gender

vii. marriage and civil partnership,

viii. gender reassignment

ix. religion.

The “unwanted conduct” must have the “purpose or effect” of:

1. violating the victim recipients dignity, or

2. creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim recipient.

In truth, it is not hard to establish that the “harassment” (unwanted conduct) has “violated” your “dignity”. In nearly every case of “harassment” it will be viewed by the victim as having been, or had the “effect of” either being “degrading, humiliating, offensive or hostile”. The key is that you MUST tie the harassment in to one of the aforementioned “protected characteristics”.

If you believe that you have been “harassed” due to either your sex, sexual orientation or sexual nature, then click here:

If you believe that you have been “harassed” due to having a disability, then click here: You may be surprised as to what legally constitutes having a “disability”. I strongly suggest you read this section, as you may have a disability, which you were unaware is a legally recognised as a disability. In this regard, purchase the £18 Template titled ‘Performance Improvement Plan’ on this website. The following are legally recognised disabilities, which employment tribunals recognise. However, the list is not exhaustive!