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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45291
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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..... I hold a senior engineering position in a UK manufacturing

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..... I hold a senior engineering position in a UK manufacturing company. Things are stressful of us at the moment but last week one of the Directors took it to another level. In an otherwise cordial meeting of around 8 people he suddenly shouted angrily at me that I was p*ssing him off. We had a 30 minute one to one after the meeting where he explained why he was angry with me. I told him it wasn't OK to shout at me and that there are better ways to deal with problems in meetings. In the end he apologised and said he could have handled it better. I later learned from another colleague who was in the same meeting that it's the 3rd time this Director has gotten angry with people in meetings recently. Should I do anything more? Many thanks.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones : , my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?
Customer:

- almost 14 years.

Customer:

I see you are offline right now so I'll just add a little more information.....The company has been around years, now employing about 250 people in my location and 800 globally. My business unit were in crisis mode with a big customer project. Things weren't going well, but there were two potential solutions we could potentially develop and offer in a quick enough time frame to save the deal. The one most people were backing had issues that were (to me) quite predictable and so I was backing the other solution. Our business Director and Engineering director (the one that shouted) agreed to work on both. However the next day (at the meeting in question) the Business Director was clearly doubtful about my solution and so I tried to persuade him of it's merits. Both he and I had a few exchanges in calm tones, but the Engineering director was angered by this and accused me of talking over the same old stuff without actually doing anything useful. I explained I was sharing information that might prove useful. He then blew up shouting that if I continued..... "you'll p*ss him off (meaning the Business Director) and you're certainly p*ssing me off". He then calmed down and the meeting lasted another 30 minutes. I sat still, but took very little part in the remainder of the meeting. Instead I made some brief notes to record what had happened, who was there etc, and to work out how I should deal with this. I had all the feelings you would expect in such circumstances, fear humiliation, stress etc. No-one said anything about his outburst until after the meeting. The one to one meeting I had with him immediately after the first meeting had finished could have gone badly so I chose to record it without telling him I was doing so. I later learned from others that it was not unusual to lose his temper in recent meetings. This was the first time he was aggressive and angry towards me, but I have personally heard him be this way to two others, one recently and one some years earlier. He has been at Director level 10 years in the same job. Hope this helps. Thanks.

Ben Jones :

Good morning and my sincere apologies slight delay, I experienced some temporary connection issues last night and could not return to the site. All seems to be resolved now so I can continue with my advice.

Whilst I understand that having to deal with someone shouting in the workplace or undermining people in such a way is unwelcome and unnecessary, it is not always easy to deal with this from a legal point of view. There are ways of trying to resolve such issues but the actual legal steps will be somewhat limited, at least in these circumstances as we are just talking about someone shouting rather than more serious forms of apparent bullying.

So as you can see this is likely to amount to a form of bullying, which is unfortunately something that happens all too often in the workplace. 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 subjected to it.

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. In addition, they have the implied contractual duty to provide a safe and suitable working environment. That includes preventing, or at least effectively dealing with bullying behaviour occurring in the workplace.

In terms of what the victim of bullying can do to try and deal with such problems, the following steps are recommended:



  1. First of all, and if appropriate, the employee should try and resolve the issue informally with the person responsible bullying.

  2. If the above does not work or is not a viable option, the employee should consider raising a formal grievance with the employer by following the company's grievance policy. This formally brings the bullying issue to the attention of the employer and they will have a duty to investigate and deal with it.

  3. If, following a grievance, the employer fails to take any action or the action they take is inappropriate, the employee would need to seriously consider their next steps. Unfortunately, employment law does not allow employees to make a direct claim about bullying. As such, the most common way of claiming is by resigning first and then submitting a claim dismissal in an employment tribunal (subject to having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer). The reason would be to claim that by failing to act appropriately, the employer has breached the implied terms of mutual trust and confidence and failed to provide a safe working environment and that there was no other option but to resign. However, this step should only be used as a last resort as it can be risky, after all it will result in the employment being terminated.


In general, a victim should 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 reference in written form that the employer and/or the tribunal can refer to.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

Customer:

Thanks Ben,

Customer:

Yes, this helps to clarify things .

Customer:

As stated I have raised this informally with the Director and I should just continue as normal. Should another incident occur I will immediately make record of it and then seek further advice.

Customer:

Thanks again,

Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best

Customer:

Ben,

Customer:

I'm trying to rate your service but it won't let me...... it says you haven't finished answering?

Ben Jones :

Apologies , there is a bug in the system which we sometimes get and it prevents you from posting your rating. Instead, you can just type your selection on here (e.g. OK, Good, Excellent) then we will process it manually later. Thank you

Customer:

Ben, no problem, please note my rating would be Excellent.

Ben Jones :

many thanks and all the best

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 45291
Experience: Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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