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The Employment Rights Advice Blog

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From banter to bullying

stop bullyingWe all enjoy a bit of banter at work. Sometimes it can brighten a spell of boredom at work. It’s when it goes a step beyond banter that it can become bullying. When the joking has an edge of intimidation and threatening, it is time to put an end to it. No one likes working in an environment where they are constantly subjected to verbal abuse, however subtle it may appear. It can be hard to complain about bullying in these circumstances. It may feel like you are making a big fuss over nothing. You may feel pressure to toughen up. You may believe that your job is at risk if you show any signs of weakness.
The reality is that no one enjoys being bullied at work, and under the law, no one has to endure it.
It is a proven fact that bullying leads to decreased productivity. Any employer who is aware of that will want to eliminate bullying from the workplace.


Some examples of bullying in the workplace

Workplace bullying takes many forms, including:

  • Giving you jobs which are almost impossible to complete within the alloted time or with the available resources
  • Not giving you all of the information needed to complete the task to the quality necessary. Your work therefore,appears incomplete
  • Keeping you away from certain meetings or people
  • Playing mind games
  • Giving you tasks which are well below your ability and role
  • Making derogatory comments about your work, or you
  • Innapropriate physical contact
  • Sexual harassment


What is the definition of workplace bullying?

“Workplace Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but, as a once off incident, is not considered to be bullying.”

Remember it is the bully who is wrong

The bully uses it as a way to exert power and feel good. That is not an acceptable way to treat people. It is not as a result of anything you have said or done. They have a need to bully. It is their challenge to meet. Bullying is not acceptable. You have rights and your employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace. Exercise your rights and protect yourself.

Steps you can take

The hardest step can sometimes be the first one. If you are being bullied at work make the decision to do something about it now.
Make a detailed note of every incident of bullying. When it is written down in a factual manner it is easier to explain to a third party.
If you feel confident, talk to the person and ask them to stop. Point out how their behaviour affects you.
Know your role at work.
Read the employers handbook on preventing and dealing with bullying in the workplace.
If the bullying continues, talk to the appropriate person at work, your line manager, HR, your employer.
If the bullying continues, you should seek the help of employment law experts who can guide and support you through the process of stopping the bullying at work and compensating you for your loss and suffering.

What can I do next?

For more information on workplace bullying in Ireland, see Bullying at work, more

Contact us today for a Free time limited consultation using the orange Yes! Tell Me More button below. We are here to help you.


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Image courtesy [-_-] JORGE , cc.15 Some modification (banner)


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