Everyone has bad days in the office from time to time, but where is the line between bad management and bullying? Banter and harassment?
Although it is not possible to bring general claims of “bullying” before an Employment Tribunal, there are lots of claims and options which you might have if you are being badly treated at work.
First thing to consider is why you are being treated the way you are. If the treatment you are receiving is related to your sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or age then you could be able to bring a discrimination claim. Injury to feelings awards are available as well as uncapped compensation for loss of earnings.
These claims must be put before an Employment Tribunal within three months of the act you are complaining about so you need to move quickly and speak to a lawyer.
Secondly, look at what effect it has had on you. If you have received treatment which does not amount to discrimination, but which has been bad enough to cause you a psychiatric injury, you could have a claim for personal injury. Having said that, these claims are very hard to bring. As well as convincing medical evidence, you need to be able to show that your employer ought to have foreseen that their behaviour would cause you not just embarrassment or upset, but to actually suffer a psychiatric disorder.
Thirdly, how often have you been mistreated? If you have suffered serious mistreatment on more than two occasions, then you could bring a claim for civil harassment. In this case, the treatment needs to be something which is bad enough to be a criminal as well as a civil offence. Only the most serious cases fall into this area, indeed the law of harassment was originally intended to help people who were being stalked so we are talking about that sort of thing.
Finally, you have to consider what outcome you would like to see. Do you want to leave your job or do you just want to bring the treatment you are facing to the attention of the management in the hope that it will be sorted out?
Even if you do not fall under any of the categories set out above, a solicitor can still help you to raise a formal grievance setting out your problems or to negotiate an exit from your job.
Upsetting treatment might still be a good reason to say that your employer has breached their duty of trust and confidence towards you, even if it is not bad enough to give you any other claim, and then, as long as you have been in your job long enough (usually 2 years) you could have a claim for unfair dismissal.
Don’t suffer in silence. Check out your grievance procedure, know your rights and speak to a lawyer.