Bullying and Harassment

Bullying in the Workplace Grievance Letter Example

www.formalgrievance.com is a dedicated website to aid employees who are being subjected to either bullying in the workplace, bullying at work, harassment in the workplace, workplace harassment or bullying and harassment. A letter of grievance is also available for those employee’s who are considering writing a letter of grievance to their employer to enter the grievance procedure.

What is Harassment and how is it different to Bullying?

When writing a grievance letter to your employer you need to establish whether you have been (1) harassed, or (2) bullied.

The difference between harassment and bullying is easy to explain i.e. harassment is on what is called a ‘protected ground’.

A ‘protected ground’ is ‘related to’ your age, race, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion etc….

Examples:

If your boss came up to you and you are female and he says – “Debbie, you have a nice pair of tits” that would be harassment ‘related to’ your sex.

If you are black and somebody said – “you bloody n*****” that would be harassment ‘related to’ your race.

The final example is if someone said – “you old gits should leave to make room for us young ones” that would be harassment ‘related’ to your age.

Put short, if the harassment is not ‘related to’ your protected characteristic, then it amounts to ‘bullying’.

Either way, whether you have been bullied or harassed it is what [you] find to be offensive or undignified that is important. For the avoidance of doubt, it is not what your employer determines what is offensive to you. The Employer has to take into consideration the injury caused to [your] feelings. Thus, when writing a letter of grievance make sure you state how you felt.

Bullying and Harassment can also be referred to as ‘unwanted conduct’. So, in your letter of grievance you might want to say something like – “The unwanted conduct I have been subjected to was both ‘uninvited and unwelcome.

For the avoidance of doubt, bullying and/or harassment does not have to be ‘related to’ you personally. If you are at work and you witness someone else bullying or harassing another person, then the law takes that into consideration insofar that it could still cause injury to [your] feelings even if you were not, per se, the victim of the bullying or harassment.

Example:

You are Asian and work with other Asians within a Department. A non-Asian person says to one of your work colleagues – “you people are all the same”. That amounts to harassment ‘related to’ your race by reason that [you] found the statement undignified even though it was not aimed at you personally. The Statutory Code of Practice on Employment 2011 (Chapter 7) covers harassment in more detail. It also provides other examples of harassment.

I have written a Grievance Letter Template Aid, which is available on this web site for only £12. The Grievance Letter Template Aid assists you in writing a letter of grievance to your employer. The Grievance Letter Template Aid covers (1) work related stress; (2) bullying and harassment; (3) discrimination. It also outlines what to do, and what not to do in invoking the grievance procedure and moreover in writing a grievance letter to your employer.

The Equality Act 2010 – Definition of Harassment at Work

The Equality Act 2010 defines “harassment as: “unwanted conduct” which must have the “purpose or effect” of:

  1. “Violating the victim recipients dignity” or:-
  2. “Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim recipient”.

If you believe you have been bullied and/or harassed, then make sure that you state so in your letter of grievance to your employer. Equally as important, you MUST state in your letter of grievance how your harasser’s “unwanted conduct” made you “feel”.  This is the most important thing you can do as ‘injury to feelings’ on the Vento Scale can payout upto £30,000 in the Employment Tribunal.

In HM Prison Service v Salmon, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an award of £20,000 for injury to feelings, including £5,000 aggravated damages, and a separate, undiscounted award of £15,000 for psychiatric injury, made by an employment tribunal that had partially upheld a former prison officer’s complaint of unlawful sex discrimination

Section 26 of the Equality Act 2010, is for harassment under a ‘protected characteristic‘, viz: race, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation etc,.

The incidents of bullying or harassment do not need to be connected, and can be purported by either workplace colleagues, customers, or third parties {the harassment does not have to be by the same person}. Therefore, it is essential that within your letter of grievance that you outline how the bullying or harassment has made [you] feel.

Where your employer fails to take reasonable and practicable steps to prevent further disruption and harassment, your employer may be vicariously liable pursuant to s.109(1)(2)(3)(4)(a)(b) of the EqA 2010 (Equality Act 2010) – Caniffe v East Riding of Yorkshire Council (2000, IRLR 555, EAT).

In fact, the person whom subjects you to harassment you could be personally liable for the harassment.

Under s.110(1)(a)(b)(c)(2) EqA 2010, the individual whom harasses you can be named as an additional named respondent in civil proceedings.

Under s.112(1) EqA 2010, a person must not “aid” another to harass you.

Under s.111 EqA 2010, a person must no ’cause, instruct or induce’ another person to harass you and/or discriminate against you. This is very important where workplace mobbing occurs.

If you need help in writing a letter of grievance for bullying, harassment and/or discrimination, then get in contact with me (business hours only if by phone!).

Having personally been the victim recipient of bullying and harassment at work, I know first hand how it leads on to a diagnosis of work related stress, anxiety, anxiety attacks and depression being made by your GP. I know because I have already walked in your shoes, not once, not twice, but three times! This is why I have created this web-site, to assist people like you.

Sometimes people come to me whom are so down trodden by their employer that they can’t even put a grievance letter together to their employer. This is where I can help you – read my testimonials page!

Employment Tribunal – Balance of Probabilities

In truth, it is rare that an employee will have “evidence” of bullying at work, to which s/he has been subjected. Harassment in the workplace is usually subtle, the harasser careful to make sure there are no witnesses to workplace bullying. Fortunately, Employment Tribunals recognise this, and take it into account. However, the burden of proof under s.136 EqA 2010 is on [you]. Your letter of grievance should outline a prima facie case against your employer, and those persons whom have subjected you to bullying, harassment and/or discrimination. A poorly written letter of grievance for bullying and harassment will be rubbished by your employer, its HR Department and the Company’s solicitors. On the other hand, a well written letter of grievance for bullying and harassment will not get rubbished! For a well written example of a grievance letter for bullying and harassment, purchase the £12 Grievance Letter Template Aid, and take back control the power over the person harassing you!

It is my own experience that workplace harassment occurs due to mismanagement, poor management, or weak management. Often, senior management have little resolve to confront the harasser, or more likely than not, are the harasser themselves.

I used my mobile phone to tape record and video my manager sexually harassing me at work. [The legality of making secret recordings are covered in the Template for £16]. I also asked my line manager why she acted in the manner she did towards me, and caught every word she said on my mobile telephone. Consequentially, I had hard evidence of the on-going harassment. I also got another employee to video my line manger sexually harassing me on his mobile telephone at a works do. Believe me, when it comes to harassment, a picture paints a thousand words! The upshot of the video and audio evidence was that I was able to support my letter of grievance with hard evidence. However, using your mobile is not always possible, and in these situations I suggest you visit the Spy Shop on-line and purchase one of those pens. This is a great device for 1 to 1 meetings where your line manager is no longer giving you the support you need. It is also great for meetings with Human Resources in grievance and disciplinary hearings.

Unless your Company has a policy or procedure which forbids this practice, then it is fair play. I have yet to come across an employer’s policy which mentions recording meetings at all.

Place the Onus on your Employer

Should you chose to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim due to workplace harassment or discrimination in the workplace, the onus is on the employee to establish facts, that “on the balance of probabilities” what you have alleged in your ET1 [employment tribunal claim] has actually occurred. This is different to let’s say a criminal trial, whereas “beyond a reasonable doubt” has to be established.

The Employment Tribunal recognises that the employer will unlikely “concede” any liability of the alleged “torts” (wrongs). The employer will attempt to establish that the claimant’s claim does not have any “merit”. The employer will allege that your ET1 is “misconceived” throwing out as much as it can. Remember, the onus is on the employee to “shift the burden of proof “on to the employer pursuant to s.136 of the Equality Act 2010.

Grievance Letter Examples

Below are two examples of a hypothetical incident of ‘sexual harassment in the workplace’. Another more in depth letter of grievance example germane to work related stress, harassment and disability discrimination is available at www.formalgrievance.com.

The first grievance example is a bad example of what to state within your letter of grievance, as it does not establish how you (the victim recipient) felt:-

“Mr Shart grabbed his crotch and told me he wanted to give me a large portion later. I was somewhat taken back, as my workplace colleagues just stood there laughing at me.”

Good grievance letter example:

“I found Shart’s conduct to be unwanted.I felt his actions were with deliberate intent, the purpose and effect to embarrass me, which is how he made me feel. I found Shart’s statement that he wanted to give me a large portion to be offensive, and most undignified. The fact that my workplace colleagues just stood there laughing at me humiliated me. Mr Shart’s conduct was wholly inappropriate. I am not sure what made him believe that his behaviour was acceptable to me. However, I felt by my colleagues laughing at me, they condoned Shart’s unwanted conduct”

In the good example above, the wording encompasses the legal definition of “harassment”. You have informed your employer that (i) you found Shart’s conduct unwanted (ii) you felt embarrassed (iii) you found Shart’s conduct to be offensive and undignified (iv) you have established the fact that you felt humiliated (v) that in no way did you encourage Shart to behave in the manner he did; Shart acted of his own volition, and of his own accord (vi) you felt your colleagues condoned Shart’s unwanted conduct by their failure to stop him.

In the good example of harassment in the workplace, you have made it difficult for your employer to point the finger of blame at you, as to do so may amount to the employer subjecting you to a “detriment” for having exercised a statutory right in lodging a letter of grievance.

Workplace Banter

However, from my own experiences, your employer will undoubtedly seek to place some portion of the blame on to you, to both limit its liability, and discredit you. It will contend that you were horsing around, and that Shart’s conduct was merely ‘harmless banter’, viz: ‘colloquial’. They may even insinuate that you in someway encouraged Shart’s behaviour, and that Shart was only reacting to you ‘egging him on’ in front of your workplace colleagues. Notwithstanding, unless you are able to ‘establish facts’ from which the Employment Tribunal could conclude that harassment has taken place, your claim is worthless. This is why it is so very important that you get your ducks in a row before you lodge your letter of grievance. (see: grievance letter template aid)

Webmaster’s thoughts:

  1. When it comes to work harassment, the law is quite clear. It is what the “victim recipient” finds to be offensive, undignified, embarrassing, degrading, hostile or intimidating. It is NOTfor your employer to decide how YOU [FELT]. Each person knows what they feel is “harmless banter” and also, the behaviour which is not acceptable to them.
  2. You need a plan of action. Gather all the evidence and facts BEFOREyou lodge your grievance letter. Once the grievance procedure is invoked, your employer will appoint an investigating officer who will endeavour to limit the organisations liability. Remember, the appointed investigator is there to protect the organisation – not you! You will have no control over the appointed investigator, or the questions s/he will ask your workplace colleagues, or how that person goes about investigating what you have alleged. Keep in mind the investigator is also an employee, and will not jeopardise their own career by finding any”evidence” of harassment, which may have occurred.
  3. So, before your invoke the grievance procedure, obtain ‘witness statements‘ from your colleagues where possible. You want short statements, giving the date, the time, the place, what the harasser stated, and who else was present. Get the person to sign and date their witness statement, and provide their name and address.
  4. From my own experiences, your colleagues will put as much distance between you and them once the grievance investigation gets underway. They will not want to become embroiled in your grievance, or risk losing their own job  – forewarned is forearmed!

Legal Definition of Harassment 

The legal definition of harassment under S.26 of the Equality Act 2010 is the following:

“Unwanted conduct” which must relate to one of the following “protected characteristics”:

  1. sex
  2. sex orientation

iii. race

  1. disability
  2. age
  3. gender

vii. marriage and civil partnership,

viii. gender reassignment

  1. religion.

The “unwanted conduct” must have the “purpose or effect” of:

  1. violating the victim recipients dignity, or
  2. creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim recipient.

In truth, it is not hard to establish that the “harassment” (unwanted conduct) has “violated” your “dignity”. In nearly every case of “harassment” it will be viewed by the victim as having been, or had the “effect of” either being “degrading, humiliating, offensive or hostile”. The key is that you MUST tie the harassment in to one of the aforementioned “protected characteristics”.

For what it is worth, pursuant to s.110(a)(b)(c)(2) of the Equality Act 2010, the harasser can be held personally liable for their own conduct in harssing you. Within your letter of grievance, I would inform your employer that they need to warn your harasser in writing to desist harassing you further; otherwise the Company would leave you no choice but to name your harasser as an additional named respondent in any Employment Tribunal proceedings. This usually puts the fear of God into the employer and the harasser, as the last thing the employer wants is to be held vicariously liable for the harassment pursuant to s.109(1)(2)(3)(4)(a)(b) of the Equality Act 2010.

Moreover, if the employer fails to take reasonable steps to prevent others employees’ from harassing you (google workplace mobbing) then the employer could be liable for inducing, causing, and aiding contraventions pursuant to s.111 of the Equality Act 2010. If you need a custom letter of grievance drafting to your employer, then contact me. There is nothing like a bit of law and a few case precedents quoted within your letter of grievance to bring your harasser to their senses!

If you believe that you have been “harassed” due to either your sex, sexual orientation or sexual nature, then click here:

If you believe that you have been “harassed” due to having a disability, then click here: You may be surprised as to what legally constitutes having a “disability”. I strongly suggest you read this section, as you may have a disability, which you were unaware is a legally recognised as a disability. The following are legally recognised disabilities, which employment tribunals recognise. However, the list is not exhaustive!

www.formalgrievance.com – how to write a letter of grievance to your employer to enter the grievance procedure, due to workplace stress, work harassment or discrimination in the workplace. www.formalgrievance.com contains a free letter of grievance, and grievance letter templates, examples and samples of grievance letters.