It is almost inevitable that each of us will at some point have experienced workplace bullying and harassment first hand or witnessed such activity. While some employment sectors may have historically seen “bullying” as part of the industry we have seen significant cultural changes in recent times.
Bullying in the workplace takes many different forms and can lead to significant compensation claims.
Common Workplace Bullying Compensation Claims
While it would be down to the individual as to what action they take when encountering any form of bullying or harassment in the workplace, it is simply not acceptable. We hear of colleagues bullying other colleagues, managers turning a blind eye or showing preferential treatment to others which can be extremely traumatic for the victim. Over the years we have seen a number of workplace bullying compensation claims taking in an array of activities such as:
- Direct threats, rumours and counter rumours relating to job security/performance;
- Deliberately overlooking certain individuals for promotion and financial benefits;
- Refusing to credit individuals with specific work;
- Humiliating individuals in front of colleagues often using inappropriate language;
- Constant and unconstructive criticism;
- Regularly assigning specific individuals to tasks way below their skill level;
- Unfairly refusing to share information with certain colleagues;
- Constant criticism and overbearing supervision.
One of the main challenges when proving bullying in the workplace is the fact that some individuals seem to live in the past and are unaware they are actually breaking the law.
While harassment and bullying are often seen as one and the same, they do differ in some ways. Some of the more common examples of harassment in the workplace include:
- Sexual misconduct, unwanted advances and physical contact;
- Reference to disabilities and personal issues;
- Attempted humour about a person’s race or religion;
- Intentionally invading personal space in order to intimidate;
- The circulation of offensive emails, videos and other material.
The idea that they should be written off as “office banter” is in itself offensive because we all have a role in the workplace and a right to carry on unhindered. In the modern era business management need to be extremely careful about how they react to accusations of bullying and harassment. If the accusations are simply ignored this could have serious legal and financial consequences for the individuals involved and the business.
Preventing Bullying At Work
Every business should have a very clear and concise policy covering bullying and harassment at work and the legal ramifications. This should include:
- Clarification of a zero tolerance policy;
- Clear complaints procedure;
- Whistleblowing protection;
- Victim support;
- General staff training;
- Regular monitoring of staffing issues;
- Recognition of bullying and harassment.
Traditionally, there has been reluctance among many members of staff to report colleagues who have been bullying individuals. Unfortunately reporting bullying can cause unwelcome consequences for the “whistleblower” but where illegal activity is taking place there must be an environment whereby action is welcomed.
Compensation For Workplace Bullying
There are numerous ways in which those suffering from workplace bullying can be compensated both for physical injuries and psychological injuries. We have detailed compensation amounts for psychological injuries below, however for physical injuries (as there can be so many) we’d suggest using our compensation calculator.
Compensation For Psychiatric Damage Of A General Nature
It is worth noting that psychiatric damage will revolve around the individual’s ability to cope with life, impact on their private life, treatment required, future vulnerability as well as the development of additional mental issues.
- Relatively moderate psychiatric damage will relate directly to the duration over which an individual’s life was impacted but falling short of issues such as phobias and other disorders. In this instance compensation from £1,310 up to £5,000 will be available.
- Moderate psychiatric damage will reflect the impact on the individual’s life but will also take into account the long-term prognosis and professional help required. In this situation, compensation from £5,000 up to £16,270 will be available.
- Moderately severe psychiatric damage includes severe cases of work-related stress brought on by bullying and harassment. Very often this will result in an inability to return to the workplace thereby attracting compensation from £16,270 up to £46,780.
- Severe cases of bullying and harassment can have an extremely traumatic long-term impact on an individual’s life and ability to cope. Where the medical prognosis offers little hope in the longer-term, compensation from £46,780 up to £98,750 will be available.
It is impossible to cover all of the potential mental health issues that long-term bullying and harassment can lead to. The impact on an individual’s life may also affect their nearest and dearest and can be literally life changing for everyone.
Providing Proof Of Bullying At Work
There are a number of acts of Parliament which define bullying and harassment and offer protection to the workforce. In order to pursue a workplace bullying compensation claim the claimant must be able to show negligence on behalf of one or more individuals and/or employers. It is worth noting that any staff involved in bullying or harassment in the workplace should be under the control of the employer and therefore the employer could be ultimately liable.
If a claimant is able to prove specific examples of bullying at work, complemented by witness statements, this would prove to be extremely useful in a court of law. As many victims will turn to their doctor for assistance in times of trouble the medical records of the claimant can also cast a useful light on the situation. Where possible, when enduring any form of bullying or harassment, physical evidence such as emails and written comments should be retained.
Those looking to pursue bullying compensation have a three year time limit to start a claim starting from when the incident/s began. In reality it is always useful to make a claim as early as possible to ensure that facts are not confused. A personal diary of incidents in the workplace would also prove to be extremely useful when collating supporting evidence.
Starting A Workplace Bullying Compensation Claim
Claiming compensation for workplace bullying is an area that experienced personal injury solicitors will deal with regularly. If you contact a solicitor for advice or to start a workplace bullying compensation claim they will discuss what’s happened and review any evidence you might currently have. It generally only takes a quick phone consultation for a solicitor to conclude whether or not a claim should be pursued. If they decide you should start a claim for bullying compensation a No Win No Fee arrangement is likely to be advised.
Once you have signed with a solicitor it is time to file the claim with the courts – together with all supporting evidence of the bullying. Where the defendant has acknowledged negligence they will likely offer a settlement at the earliest opportunity to avoid the hassle and costs of going to court. In situations where negligence is disputed, or there is more than one party involved in the bullying, these will likely go before the courts. After considering all evidence a judge will rule on negligence and any appropriate level of workplace bullying compensation.
If you have been bullied at work and think you are entitled to workplace bullying compensation contact our solicitors today and we can discuss your claim in confidence.