Bullying in the workplace in Ireland

22 Sep 2010

What is bullying in the workplace? Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour that undermines your right to dignity at work.

Bullying can be verbal bullying; physical bullying or otherwise and it can take many different forms:

  • You may be physically or psychologically harassed by someone in the workplace
  • You may be the victim of social exclusion and isolation
  • Your reputation may be damaged by gossip or rumours
  • A person may be abusing a position of power that he or she has over you, for example, by setting you impossible tasks or targets.


What should you do if you are being bullied at work?

If someone is bullying you at work you should report the bullying to a manager. If there is a company grievance or complaints procedure, you should use it.

Your employer is under a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bullying in the workplace. One step that an employer may take to prevent bullying is to create a company policy or code of conduct and to ensure that everyone in the company knows the policy. In addition, the company must consider and act upon any complaints that are made about bullying. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment have produced a useful ‘Code of Practice detailing procedures for addressing bullying in the workplace’. This Code is of interest to employees, employers and their representatives as it sets out guidance notes for effectively addressing bullying in the workplace.

If the bullying becomes unbearable and you are forced to leave your job, you may be entitled to claim that you were “constructively dismissed”. This means that although you left your job voluntarily, in reality you were forced to do so because of the way that you were being treated.

You may then be entitled to bring a claim to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and if the tribunal agrees that you were “constructively dismissed”, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.

If the bullying/harassment/stress at work is so great that it causes your health (physical or psychological) to suffer or be affected, you may also be entitled to bring a claim in the courts for compensation for personal injury.

It is advised that if you are being bullied or subjected to unreasonable amounts of stress in the workplace that you obtain legal advice about your rights before leaving your job.

Where to apply

Further information about your rights and your employers’ obligations regarding bullying in the workplace is available from The Equality Authority.

You should contact a solicitor if you wish to bring a claim about bullying in the workplace before the courts. FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is a voluntary organisation that operates a network of legal advice clinics throughout the country. These clinics are confidential, free of charge and open to all. Contact your nearest Citizens Information Centre for information on FLAC services in your area.

Contact information for solicitors firms throughout Ireland is listed in the Golden Pages.

If you feel that you have been “constructively dismissed”, you should contact:
The Employment Appeals Tribunal,
Davitt House
65a Adelaide Road
Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 631 2121 or (01) 631 3330 
Tuesday, 7 September 2010, 3:33pm

By Tara Dalrymple

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