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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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I am being bullyed at work by my team colleague. She

Resolved Question:

Hello
I am being bullyed at work by my team colleague.
She ignores me and when we work together I get the silent treatment (where there are no witnesses) but she is polite to me when there are other people around. She has tried to sabotage my work a couple of times (unsuccessfully) and withholds information. She has spoken to me in a hostile and rude way over the telephone. Her contract says that she must cover my holiday and the last time I booked some time away she wouldn't speak to me for a while (and then told me that she doesn't like changing her shift to cover holiday). I know that she has been saying horrible things about me behind my back (another member of my team told me). The other day I asked her a question regarding the rota and she flew into a hissy fit, went to the other team members and told them I don't what exactly but from 12.30 onwards that day none of the other team members (four in total) worked with me. They worked together on another desk. This has happened before where I have been left to work alone when policy-wise this shouldn't happen.
I am 58 years old and have worked for this organisation for 14 years. I have a good work record and I get on well with everyone. My manager has never had to speak to me regarding a mistake or complaint and this is all very new to me. One of my colleagues told me today that this person is thinking to going to HR to complain that I am bullying her, which has really shocked me, as there is absolutely no grounds whatsoever for it, but then said "Don't worry because we know what you're like and that you wouldn't do it". It is really starting to affect my health. It is constantly on my mind and I am not sleeping. I have seen bullying cases at work before (although I don't know the details) and in these cases both parties are let go. I am really worried that I will lose my job and I can't afford not to work and won't be able to walk into another job easily at my age. Please could you advise. Many thanks, Maria.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Has a formal complaint been raised about this yet, either by you or the other person?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Ben

No, there has been no formal complaint yet.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Good morning Maria, do not worry about losing your job just yet as it won’t be too easy for the employer to facilitate that. If an employee has been continuously employed with their employer for at least 2 years they will be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that to fairly dismiss them their employer has to show that there was a potentially fair reason for dismissal and that a fair dismissal procedure was followed.
According to the Employment Rights Act 1996 there are five separate reasons that an employer could use to show that a dismissal was fair: conduct, capability, redundancy, illegality or some other substantial reason (SOSR). The employer will not only need to show that the dismissal was for one of those reasons, but also justify that it was appropriate and reasonable to use in the circumstances. In addition, they need to ensure that a fair dismissal procedure was followed and this would depend on which of the above reasons they used to dismiss. So with little evidence and a long service and clean record it will not be easy to fairly dismiss you in the circumstances and even if they do, you would be able to consider an unfair dismissal claim against them.
In terms of the bullying you are experiencing, this 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 for the 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 for bullying is by resigning first and then submitting a claim for constructive dismissal in an employment tribunal (subject to having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer). The reason for resigning 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.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Ben Jones and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you very much Ben - the advice is very reassuring.