Employment Law and Bullying or Harassment misk.1888932-2946.ws

Bullying and harassment in the workplace have been hitting the headlines in recent weeks. It appears that this little reported problem is in fact a growing issue in UK workplaces with many employees having spoken out following allegations of bullying in the Prime Minister’s Office.

UK employment law states that every employee has the right to be treated with dignity and respect whilst they are at work; this means that they should not be victims of bullying or harassment. ACAS describes bullying as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour or words. The organisation’s definition of bullying goes further to include the abuse or misuse of positions of authority in order to undermine, humiliate or denigrate somebody. Similarly, harassment is defined as any unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of either a man or a woman in the workplace. Harassment may be related to the victim’s gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, race or a disability amongst other things.

Bullying and harassment are not in anybody’s interests in the workplace. These problems cost companies thousands of pounds in inefficiency, low morale and absenteeism each year. As well as this, employers have a legal responsibility, a duty of care, towards their employees to protect them from bullying and harassment in the workplace. This means that according to employment law, an employer must ensure that bullying behaviour is not tolerated.

In the times when this responsibility is not fulfilled, either by an employer’s refusal to acknowledge or address the problem, or in cases where it is the boss themselves who is to blame for the bullying or harassment, the employee should consider taking action.

Unfortunately, because employment law and particularly the part of the law governing bullying and harassment at work is relatively complex, it is not possible to make a complaint to the employment tribunal about bullying per se. However, if a victim believes that they were bullied on grounds of their sex, race, religion, age, disability or other such factors then they may be able to make a claim using laws governing discrimination and harassment.

If the duty of care to an employee is broken by the employer and the employee does not protect the rights of an employee then the employee has the right to resign and later make a complaint about constructive dismissal, provided that they have worked with the employer for at least 12 months.

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Disarm Workplace Bullies With Employment Laws employment law definition

Much has been written about workplace bullying in the most recent years. There are even an increasing number of complaints which hit the headlines. With this alarming rate, it was imperative for employment laws to be enacted in order to combat workplace harassment.

Employment laws basically call for respect for each employee and for them to be treated with dignity while they are on duty. This means that any victimizing act should not be tolerated. By definition, harassment means doing anything that causes offense, is malicious, or insulting. These are unwanted acts such as humiliation, undermining, questioning or laughing at an employee’s religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political stand, or race.

A lot of employees’ problems each year all point towards workplace harassment-concerns such as low morale, absenteeism, and even inefficiency all result from this negative behavior. Since this affects the general workplace environment, it should be every employer’s goal to minimize if not totally eradicate workplace harassment.

Here are some of the most renowned employment laws:

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act-prohibits the discrimination of older, working people such as those aged 40 and up.

The Executive Order 8802-which was implemented by the FEPC or Fair Employment Practices Commission requires businesses with existing government contracts to not discriminate against religion or race. This paved the way for African Americans and other minority groups to obtain home front industry employment.

The Employment Equal Opportunities Law-prohibits discrimination on grounds of a person’s gender; pregnancy; sexual orientation; age; parenting; religion; political view; reservist duty; country of origin; or race.

The Equal Pay Act-was enacted in 1963 and it abolished sexual discrimination.

Fair Labor Standards Act-has child labor provisions which prohibits the use of child manpower.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973-is a law which provides equal employment opportunity for disabled yet qualified workers.

The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act-imposes the safety standards and number of hours for construction contracts.

The most basic laws state that employees can resign and file a complaint later, provided that they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months. For serious cases such as sexual harassment; or discrimination towards a person’s religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation, no period of employment is required. Now these are just a handful of employment laws that employees can turn to when abused by an employer or even by a co-worker. Be a victim no more. Ask the help of your human resources department or a qualified lawyer immediately.

Disarm Workplace Bullies With Employment Laws