Bullying and harassment

In a workplace context, “harassment” is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (other than marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity) that has the purpose of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. Harassment in the workplace can also occur where a person reasonably considers conduct to have that effect, even if the effect is unintended.

“Bullying” is not defined in UK employment law. Acas defines workplace bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied”. The Health and Safety Executive stresses that bullying is a pattern of behaviour rather than isolated instances, and states that it “involves negative behaviour being targeted at an individual, or individuals, repeatedly and persistently over time”.


Senior solicitor groped his secretary and told racist jokes

A solicitor who ran through the offices of his employer with a pretend Ku Klux Klan hood has been found guilty of sexual harassment and racist behaviour.

Complaints ‘not taken seriously’ under Commons grievance scheme

13 Oct 2020

Parliamentary staff are being discouraged from pursuing complaints and have been given incorrect advice by the grievance system introduced to...

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Sexual harassment in a pandemic: why staff are more vulnerable

2 Oct 2020

With fewer people in the office and the increased likelihood of lone working and online abuse, there is a heightened risk of sexual harassment.

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Gender-fluid and non-binary workers protected under Equality Act

17 Sep 2020

Protections under the Equality Act for those going through gender reassignment extends to those who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary,...

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Sexual harassment ‘endemic’ within GMB Union

3 Sep 2020

The GMB union, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, has been branded ‘institutionally sexist’ by a barrister leading an...

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Contractor loses sexual discrimination case against HSBC

30 Jul 2020

A worker who claimed she was forced out of her role at HSBC after having an affair with a superior...

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Senior lawyer fined for kissing junior colleague

16 Jun 2020

A top lawyer has been ordered to pay almost £100,000 for professional misconduct after he kissed a junior solicitor in...

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Global businesses embrace Black Lives Matter movement

9 Jun 2020

Businesses break with the past to express support for Black Lives Matter as CEOs and founders tell of their revulsion at recent killings in the US.

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Charity worker unfairly dismissed after whistleblowing on foul banter

27 May 2020

A charity worker who blew the whistle on colleagues for using foul language and mocking someone with a physical disability...

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Tube worker wins £14k after dismissal delays

19 May 2020

A London Underground worker sacked for sexual harassment has been awarded £14,500 for his employer’s failure to conduct a timely...

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Priti Patel due to be cleared of bullying accusations

29 Apr 2020

Home secretary Priti Patel is likely to be cleared of accusations she bullied senior civil servants in three government departments,...

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Priti Patel

Employment tribunal claim made against home secretary Priti Patel

20 Apr 2020

Former Home Office civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam claims he was constructively dismissed from his role after accusing Patel of bullying.

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Gay engineer awarded £175k for ‘nightmare’ treatment after coming out

15 Apr 2020

An engineer has been awarded £175,000 after taking his employer to the...

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Barclays not liable for sexual assaults committed by contractor

2 Apr 2020

Barclays Bank is not liable for the numerous alleged sexual assaults committed by a self-employed doctor who had been contracted...

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Is it time for specific anti-bullying legislation?

12 Mar 2020

There are a few avenues available to employees wishing to seek legal redress after being bullied in the workplace, but...

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