Bullying and Harassment HR Case Study

Bullying and Harassment HR Case Study

Bullying & Harassment Case Study

An employee who was subjected to harassment compared to banter in “Carry On” films was awarded £21,000 for successful claims of sex discrimination, harassment and constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal

The Case

Ms Minto was subjected to remarks that were of the same sexual nature as the theme of the “Carry On” films by her male line manager on a daily basis. She informed him that she did not like the comments he made to her and received the response that “banter is a part of everyday life”

Ms Minto feared that she would lose her job as office manager at the company if she did not put up with his abuse, but after continual inappropriate comments were made despite her making it clear she did not like them or find them funny, she reported her line manager’s behaviour. He was asked to 'tone things down', but after continuing in the same manner they were eventually separated as the company understood his behaviour was inappropriate. As a result of this Ms Minto received a telephone call from her line manager informing her that “if you don’t watch your back, I’ll make sure you’re out”

Ms Minto resigned, stating that she had suffered humiliation, stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the treatment received from her line manager, and brought a claim of sex discrimination, harassment and constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal

The Tribunal Decision

The tribunal found that Ms Minto’s claims were all just and valid, awarding her £21,000 in compensation. Other findings were:

  • The tribunal found that “the nature of the sexual remarks alleged by the claimant are of the same sexual nature which is the theme of the Carry On films” and that the line manager was a “large man who used strong industrial language with frequent use of the F-word towards his subordinates on a daily basis”. This behaviour amounted to harassment
  • ‘Banter’ is a loose expression, covering what otherwise might be abusive behaviour on the basis that those participating do so willingly and on an equal level. It can easily transform into bullying when a subordinate employee effectively has no alternative but to accept/participate in this conduct to keep his or her job
  • The tribunal concluded that the overall behaviour displayed (or allowed to take place) by the line manager was the reason that Ms Minto resigned and as such her claim for constructive unfair dismissal was successful

Case Summary

This case clearly shows that the need to have a clearly defined bullying & harassment policy so that employees and managers know what acceptable and what kind of behaviour is expected within the company

It also highlights the importance of a fair and reasonable investigation into any complaints made (and the benefits of grievance and disciplinary procedures) in order to avoid costly tribunal claims

You can ensure that your company avoids this type of case with our comprehensive Bullying and Harassment HR Pack here

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