The equality act 2010 defines harassment as ‘unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an individuals dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual’.
Behaviour that is considered bullying by one person may be considered firm management by another. Most people will agree on extreme cases of bullying and harassment but it is sometimes the ‘grey’ areas that cause most problems. Here are some examples of what is unacceptable behaviour, including:
Bullying and harassment is not necessarily face to face, it may occur through written communications, visual images (for example pictures of a sexual nature or embarrassing photographs of colleagues), email, phone, and automatic supervision methods – such as computer recording of downtime from work – if these are not universally applied to all workers.
Those making a complaint usually define what they mean by bullying or harassment – something has happened to them that is unwelcome, unwarranted and causes a detrimental effect. If employees complain they are being bullied or harassed, then they have a grievance which must be dealt with regardless of whether or not their complaint fits with a standard definition.
Nisa is a nurse on a ward, she is regularly criticised in front of colleagues by a particular manager. Nisa’s colleagues are not criticised even though they have made the same mistakes. Her colleagues think this is amusing and repeat the managers criticisms to others. Nisa feels that she does not have her colleagues support to make a complaint.
Are Nisa’s colleagues colluding with this bullying behaviour?