Bullying and Harassment

Partner, Andrew Bryan, comments on a recent case  where an employer found themselves in a position of dismissing a hardworking and well – liked employee because of an incident for which the employee apologised profusely, however because of the employers own policies it found dismissal was the only option. 


It is normal to see a workplace policy prohibiting bullying and harassment which gives examples of unacceptable behaviour. Verbal and physical bullying will be obvious inclusions in the policy , email and social media formats are now becoming increasingly more common inclusions. The harassment allegation in this particular case, however, was focused around a different medium – a drinks mug.


A female employee found a mug in a kitchen cupboard at her workplace. She complained to her manager that she found the comments in the form of graffiti that appeared on the side of the mug to be threatening – she described it as an ‘offensive misogynist message directed at me’.


The employer took a serious position with regard to instances of bullying and harassment in their organisation including requiring employees to undertake a 3 hour online training session on equal opportunities.


An investigation culminated in the employee who brought the mug into the office being invited to attend a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing he apologies and insisted that the comments on the mug were not directed at the employee who had complained. Although he had 20 years service and a clean disciplinary record, he was dismissed.


In light of the zero tolerance policy towards bullying and harassment, the employer’s decision to dismiss was within the range of reasonable responses to the circumstances.  The employee appealed to the Employment Tribunal which confirmed that with a zero tolerance policy towards bullying and harassment, there could be no instance of bullying that would get past a robust zero tolerance policy.


It is important the:

  • Employers appreciate that bullying can take place via a wide range of media.
  • Employers are in a strong position to fairly dismiss employees for one instance of alleged bullying through media which is not necessarily initially though of a controversial, provided a fair procedure is adopted.
  • Long service and good disciplinary record will not always be sufficient mitigation for employees in bullying/harassment cases.

If you have an employment issues you wish to discus please call Andrew Bryan on 02392 820747

 

August 2017

New Year : Online Scams

In recent light of the 'Whatsapp Gold' text scam, we look at the dangers of online scams, fraud and circulating malware.

More Info

Do you know your Consumer Rights?

In the lead up to Christmas, knowing your rights as a consumer is as important as ever.

More Info

Reigning in the rogue bailiffs

Aggressive bailiffs are set to face renewed scrutiny under new plans to end intimidating practices and better protect vulnerable people.

More Info

Right to refuse a business tenancy cannot be misused

An interesting case is currently making its way through the court system and may have far reaching implications for the landlord/tenant relationship in relation to tenancy renewals

More Info

Reviews

We’re proud to be associated with

  • The Law Society, Conveyancing Quality Accredited logo
  • The Law Society, Children Law Accredited logo
  • The Law Society, Criminal Litigation Accredited logo
  • The Law Society, Family Law Accredited logo
  • The Law Society, Family Law Advanced Accredited logo
  • The Law Society, Lexcel Accredited logo
  • Solicitors For The Elderly Accredited logo
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners logo
  • Dementia Friends logo
  • Resolution logo