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Bullying – The Hidden Killer In The Workplace

Stressed worker
17th December 2013

Bullying in the workplace might properly be called a ‘hidden’ killer. It is estimated that at least a quarter of a company’s workforce could be victims of bullying, yet continue to suffer in silence. In some highly pressurised industry sectors, where different forms of bullying are considered ‘part of the job’, the total could as high as over three quarters.

Often a culture persists where the line of acceptable behaviour has simply been overstepped for so long that no one really knows what is ‘normal’ anymore, or even admit it exists out of fear of losing their job. Around a half of all managers are on the receiving end, themselves, of a persistent level of bullying tactics.

Often the more insidious, hidden levels of bullying can lead to severe ill health from stress related illnesses or even more serious psychological conditions. A victim’s quality of life can be significantly damaged by bullying, which can cause anxiety, inability to sleep and a loss of self-confidence. Physical symptoms, which can often accompany extreme stress, include headaches, ulcers, skin rashes, irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure. In the most extreme cases, suicidal thoughts or actions may develop.

Attempts to claim personal injury compensation by an employee who insists that they have suffered physical or mental abuse from their managers or work colleagues over a long period of time, can come up against a wall of silence and official denial.

While English law does not have in place specific legal protection against bullying in the workplace, there are however, relevant parts of employment-related or general law, which compensation solicitors can often refer to in a majority of cases.

Any employee who believes they are the target of unfair treatment by their employer, manager or colleague may have grounds for legal redress against any of the following typical examples of types of bullying behaviour:

  • Repeated attack on professional or personal standing.
  • Referring of personal /private life to other employees where there is no justification or work related connection.
  • Constantly on the receiving end of jokes of a sexual or racial nature or similar harassment.
  • Constant criticism without good reason.
  • Normal duties or responsibilities removed or given trivial tasks below job position or experience intended to degrade or belittle.
  • Deliberate and unfair blocking of promotion or movement from one job position to another within a company.
  • Persistent ‘picking on’ an employee with trivial or unfair complaints either in private or in front of other employees.
  • Contriving to make an employee fail at a given task by overloading with work or setting impossible deadlines.
  • Regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding employees from work activities.