Verbal bullying is a real problem in some UK workplaces, with many claims of discrimination and harassment including allegations that victims were threatened, called names or assaulted.
New research from conciliation service Acas suggests that discrimination on grounds of religion or sexual orientation in the workplace tends to involve bullying, with verbal assaults, threats and physical violence all cited as forms of harassment.
Conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies, the study examines the reality of discrimination in British workplaces following the introduction of new Employment Equality Regulations on sexual orientation and religion or belief in 2003.
Many respondents to the study said that employers tended to respond to complaints by seeing the complainant as a problem rather than a victim, with workplace dispute resolution procedures often "flawed". Some workplace dispute resolution procedures appeared to exacerbate cases of discrimination and can lead to dismissal, demotion or resignation for victims.
Rita Donaghy, chair of ACAS, said: "This is the first time since the new regulations came into force that sexual orientation and religion or belief at work has been subject to research. The findings shed new light on these issues both from the employees' and employers' perspective."
Employment tribunals were praised in the report for providing victims with an effective way to seek justice and have their case heard objectively.