Employment Lawyers Can Answer Your Employment Law Questions
Thanks for picking this up. I haven't raised a formal grievance, no, I was made to feel that I was at fault and I didn't really know what to think. I had hoped it would get better, but it hasn't. It has been suggested to me that I should raise a grievance, before they instigate disciplinary proceedings against me for an alleged drop in performance, but I don't know who to raise it against & my original boss was made MD this year. My CEO's know what he does, but they have just condoned it. In relation to my illness, following treatment via CBT, which I felt was not working for me, I began prolonged treatment with a psychotherapist due to thoughts of self harm. My then manager was aware I was seeing someone as it required me to take additional time. I took all of these appointments over my lunch breaks.
In June / July we faced a difficult situation with product certification. A product was tested and compliant, but the designer wanted a different change and since modification passing the tests became more difficult. This was blamed largely on me and caused a significant amount of stress. My depression worsened and I considered taking my own life. I made my employers aware that I was considering taking my own life. This was met with “no you won’t”. I began seeing a psychiatrist as My GP was concerned by my suicidal thougts.
The situation re. product was eventually resolved, however I approached my manager and said in September that I did not believe the situation was working. He said that he would improve communication, that what happened re. certification was desperately unfortunate and that I shouldn’t rush into anything.
When he returned to the office after a few days at a trade show, that I was excluded from, his response seemed different in that he didn’t seem bothered.
My illness has not been discussed since. But in my appraisal, my manager brought this up, asking if I was still seeing a psychiatrist. I responded that my medication had been reviewed and as I wasn’t considered to be a suicide risk I had been signed back to my GP.
My manager then said that he was not a stranger to this illness and that he could offer support. He said that with my consent he could either speak with my GP, or he could arrange for me to speak with an independent health advisor who would then speak with my manager.
I asked why this was happening now? For me I am afraid it is too little and far too late. He said I was suspicious. Quite frankly I am suspicious, I do not trust them.
Further to this, one of the meetings I am excluded from is a "managers meeting". Previously I attended this as I also have responsibility for Health Safety & this was our means of complying with legislation in communicating certain information. I have now been excluded from this meeting and the format has been changed to mean that managers can discuss problems they are having with their staff. I feel extremely uncomfortable knowing that my manager discusses me (he believes my feeling demoted as being petulant) with colleagues who I believed were my peers. It further undermines my position and any relationships I need to make on a professional level.
There are so many things which have happened that I have tried to get through, but I can't any more. They have bullied 1 person out of the business and managed another out recently. I am applying for jobs and have actively been looking for some time, but it is difficult in my field. I believe I need to take action to protect myself.
I thank you for your help in this.
Good morning, it does indeed appear that you are on the receiving end of bullying, which is unfortunately something that is not uncommon in workplaces. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual.
Under law, specifically the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, an employer has a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees. That includes preventing bullying behaviour occurring in the workplace and effectively dealing with any complaints that have arisen as a result of bullying.
In terms of what an employee who is the victim of bullying can do to try and deal with such problems, the following steps are recommended:
In general, try and gather as much evidence as possible before considering making a formal complaint and certainly before going down the resignation route. As bullying often takes verbal form, the best way is to keep a detailed diary of all bullying occasions so that there is at least some evidence in written form that the employer and/or the tribunal can refer to.
It is also possible to try and agree a settlement agreement with the employer. You cannot force them to enter into one or even consider it but you have nothing to lose for suggesting it. If they refuse now, they may be prompted to seriously reconsider this if you were to proceed with a claim in the tribunal, especially as ACAS would then become involved in the negotiations process.
many thanks for this, is there any particular way i should put this info accros & how do i go about a settlement agreement?
Bullying is not covered by legislation although as mentioned above the Health & Safety Act will be relevant. To approach the subject of a settlement agreement you may wish to consider raising a grievance first - then you will have a formal dispute in place and as part of the grievance process you can approach the employer and state that you are willing to consider leaving under a settlement agreement if they are happy to think about that too. If they refuse then you may mention that if this grievance and the matter is not resolved fully you will consider a constructive dismissal claim and mention again that a settlement would be the best optin for all parties
Please let me know if this has answered your query or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?
Many thanks for getting back to me. Is this something that I am best engaging a solicitor for? I have head that a more official complaint via a solicitors letter could be more effective. I have heard that constructive dismissal is very difficult to prove and that disability discrimination may be a better option, but I just don't know enough about this.
OK, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you
Thanks Ben, it really is appreciated.
Many thanks for your patience. Whilst it is not a requirement to engage a solicitor at this stage, or at any stage for that matter, it can sometimes help because it will show that you are taking this issue seriously. Getting a letter from a solicitor could strike an element of fear into someone because it automatically makes them think that some sort of legal action is imminent. However, there is of course no guarantee it will have that desired effect, although unless you try you will never know. So it is possible to engage a solicitor to write the letter but of course there will be extra costs associated with that with no guarantee it will make a difference.
Constructive dismissal is indeed a difficult claim and disability discrimination is an alternative as long as you can satisfy the criteria for being disabled and you can show that you were treated detrimentally because of it. However, due to the limited information I have about your situation I cannot advise about prospects of success with either claim and that is something only a solicitor who has conducted a formal case analysis can advise on.
Thanks Ben. I think I just want to make sure I do not do anything incorrectly in either compiling a grievance, a letter before action / requesting a settlement agreement. Add to this we received notification (less than 24hrs) of managers being given access to our business e-mail in-boxes, which I do not understand as this seems to be a little more than monitoring.
I thank you for your time in this & think my next course of action is meeting with someone to discuss options and a template for a letter.