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Q. What is the difference between harassment, victimisation and bullying?


Harassment and Victimisation both have a legal definition and complaints of this nature can be brought as a claim in an Employment Tribunal without any minimum length of service being required.

Bullying does not have a legal definition.

An employee could resign and because they are being bullied, bring a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. They can bring a constructive unfair dismissal claim only if they have at least one year and fifty one weeks service.

Harassment is:-

  • Unwanted conduct
  • Related to one of the 9 protected characteristic (ie. gender, disability, race)
  • Conduct intended to or creates a violation of an individual’s dignity or
  • Conduct which creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual

Victimisation is the negative conduct directed towards someone who might make, has made or is believed to have made or supported a complaint under the Equality Act. 

An example of this is an employee that is unfairly treated because they gave evidence in support of a colleague’s claim for discrimination.

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. 

This behaviour may be repeated and habitual or it may be a single instance. 

Even though bullying does not have a legal definition, it is damaging for your business and its reputation if it goes unchallenged.

If you are concerned about Harassment, Victimisation or Bullying within your Company, we recommend you take professional advice as a matter of urgency.

Charlotte Orange
Charlotte Winder
HR Advisor
01772 600228
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