Bullying and Harassment

by Andrew Wood

The consequences of inaction

Aside from the legal consequences, employers who fail to deal with bullying and harassment cases may have to face the consequences of bad media publicity, which will damage the public image of any organisation.

Litigation in these instances is almost always incredibly expensive. It also puts a huge strain on resources and an organisation’s effective use of time as it struggles to cope with day-to-day business. If awards are made to the individual, they are invariably costly. Moreover, if the harassment is related to sex, race, disability, religioun, sexual orientation or age discrimination, the financial rewards are unlimited – in other words, the courts can award however much they choose.

Where employers can prove that the organisation has implemented a workable harassment policy, it is more likely that an Employment Tribunal will decide that everything that is reasonably practicable had been done to exercise a duty of care. This could mean that the person who was responsible for the harassment would be held accountable and they would then personally be liable for any award made.

In cases where the employee resigns as a result of the harassment, or as a result of the failure of the employer to handle allegations adequately, they may bring a case of constructive dismissal against the employer. This would result in further litigation and costs.