What is work place harassment?

Workplace harassment includes different types of discrimination which acts as a violation that is not confined to one specific group. The wide-ranging types of workplace harassment can be loosely categorised into emotional and physical abuse. Bullying and harassment is a type of behaviour that could make someone feel intimidated or offended.

Any form of Harassment should not be tolerated regardless of whether the behaviour is being exhibited by a Co-Worker, Supervisor or someone from higher Management. This behaviour within your work environment can create a hostile and intimidating environment for anyone involved.

Some Examples of bullying or harassing behaviour include:

  • Spreading malicious rumours or insulting someone
  • Ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail
  • Exclusion or victimisation
  • Unfair treatment
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
  • Unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials, asking for sexual favours, making decisions on the basis of sexual advances being accepted or rejected
  • Making threats or comments about job security without foundation
  • Deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism
  • Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.

Does Bullying & Harassment count just face to face?


Bullying and harassment is not necessarily face to face, it could also occur in written communications, email, phone and direct supervision. For example, setting KPIs that do not apply to all staff?

  • Face-to-face
  • By letter
  • By email
  • By phone

Knowing the Law


Bullying itself isn’t against the law, but harassment is.

This is when the unwanted behavior is related to one of the following:

  • Sex                        
  • Disability
  • Gender (including gender reassignment)
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation


    Preventing, Identifying and Managing Harassment

     Everyone has the right to enjoy a respectful and positive working environment. Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy surroundings where employees can enjoy a bullying- and harassment-free working experience, not just in the office but in areas where work is performed. This extends to training, conferences, social outings and work parties.

    Employers are required to identify and manage the risk of harassment at work. They should provide clear policies in relation to harassment and bullying detailing their own responsibilities, as well as those of their workforce to raise awareness of related issues among the workforce, and to set standards for the workplace behaviour.

    What advice would you give in these tricky situations?




    What can you do if you feel you’re being Bullied or Harassed?

    Bullying and harassment are often clear cut but sometimes people are unsure whether or not the way they are being treated is acceptable.

    If this applies to you there are a number of things to consider, including:

    • Has there been a change of management or organisational style to which you just need time to adjust
    • Is there an organisational statement of standards or behaviour that you can consult?
    • Can you talk over your worries with your personnel manager, your line manager/supervisor or colleagues?
    • Can you agree changes to workload or ways of working that will make it easier for you to cope?

    If you are sure you are being bullied or harassed, then there is a number of options to consider, and these are set out below. You should take any action you decide upon as quickly as possible.

    • If you’re reluctant to make a complaint, speak to someone who you feel comfortable with to discuss the problem
    • Keep a diary of all incidents – records of dates, times, any witnesses, your feelings etc
    • Tell the person to stop whatever it is they are doing that is causing you distress, they may be unaware
    • If you cannot confront the bully, consider writing a memo to them to make it clear what it is you object to in their behaviour. Keep copies of this and any replies, be firm but not aggressive, be positive and calm sticking to the facts.
    • If you do decide to make a formal complaint follow your employer’s procedures.