26 February 2009

LEGAL - What are your options if you are being bullied and harassed?

You are being bullied at work- what are your options?

By Corinne Day

There is an implied duty on your employer to treat you, as their employee, with respect. However, if an employer commits a breach of this duty, you will be able to treat your contract of employment as breached and you will be able to resign.

As you long as you resign within a reasonable time, you may be able to claim for damages, on the grounds that you have been 'wrongfully dismissed' and / or 'unfairly dismissed' at an employment tribunal. In such circumstances your resignation would be known as a 'constructive dismissal'.

However, you must be able to show that your employer's conduct (or a person working for the employer) was serious enough to merit you resigning. You must be able to show that you had no other choice but to resign.

Your resignation need not be based on one serious incident, and you may also be able to rely on the cumulative effect of any bullying / harassment / criticism you have faced from your employer.

You will be able to claim damages in an Employment tribunal as a result of your constructive dismissal. If you are successful you may be entitled to receive both a basic and a compensatory award of damages.

Corinne Day is a trainee solicitor who specialises in information technology law and intellectual property law. She can be contacted via e-mail on corinne.day@lawdit.co.uk

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