Bullying and Harassment
Harassment in the
workplace is prohibited under the Employment Equality Act 1998. Employers must
also prevent staff from being bullied under the Safety, Health and Welfare at
Work Act 1989.
Workplace bullying is
the repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal,
physical, or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or
others, at the place of work and /or in the course of employment, which could
reasonably be regarded as underminining the individualís right to dignity at
work. An isolated incident may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once
off incident is not considered to be bullying.
Bullying can involve
physical abuse or threats of abuse, loud voiced criticism or obsenities, using
rumour, gossip or ridicule to undermine an employee, overloading an employee
with work, withholding information or setting meaningless tasks as well as
social exclusion or isolation.
Harassment can involve
words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of material which are
unwelcome to a person and could reasonably be regarded as offensive,
humiliating or intimidating. Sexual harassment is defined as: acts of physical
intimacy, requests for sexual favours, words or gestures or the production, display
or circulation of written words or pictures which are unwelcome to a person and
could reasonably be regarded as sexually offensive, humiliating or intimidating
to that person.
Under the Equal Status
Act 2000, employers also have a duty to ensure that clients are protected from
harassment by employees.
Bullying or harassment
can have a serious impact on a personís well-being. It can cause psychological
and physiological damage. People affected by this can change from being happy
and confident at work to being isolated and withdrawn. It can also lead to
greater levels of absenteeism and sick leave.
If an employee has a
complaint about bullying, a claim for Ďconstructive dismissalí may also be
taken under the Unfair Dismissals Acts. If there is a sexual or discriminatory
element, a claim may be taken under the Employment Equality Act.