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

Patients have a right to all relevant information

March 2018

A woman has won damages in a medical negligence claim on behalf of her son for injuries sustained at his birth. The case centred around a doctor’s duty to ensure that patients are aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment.

More Info

Making the UK safe online

March 2018

The days of poison pen letters may be in the past but the tendency of some individuals to publish offensive comments about others is 'alive and well' and, indeed, has increased significantly. Unfortunately, however, our laws struggle to keep up with the rate of change. 

More Info

Government refund if you applied for a Lasting Power of Attorney

February 2018

In a very rare, but very welcome development, the government is offering refunds to people that it has decided that it overcharged in the past. If you applied for a Lasting Power of Attorney between the dates of 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017 you are entitled to a partial refund of your fee.

More Info

Flowers to be used for floristry are “picked” and not “mown”

February 2018

Partner Hannah Jones comments on an interesting recent case that was before the Court of Appeal. “Were the flowers that you recently purchased from the florist “picked” or “mown”? This may seem like an unnecessarily fine distinction but it was a distinction that recently became crucial for a trader in dried flowers in Ipswich”.

More Info

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