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STRESS AT WORK CAUSED BY BULLYING/HARASSMENT AT WORK
Posted on January 8, 2013 by srlaw, Click here for PDF Article Download


An introductory note to employees

This is a preliminary advice not and is not a substitute for taking detailed legal advice in relation to your situation, which may be legally complicated.

Work related stress is unfortunately very common.

This normally starts by a new line manager being appointed, who takes a dislike to a member of staff (“the employee”).

The line manager commences a campaign to attempt to make the employee leave the company.

Work is typically micro-managed and the work of the employee is criticised in respect of every single perceived fault. The employee is also typically ignored, including in particular during meetings with other members of staff, and is also typically embarrassed in front of his/her peers.

After a while, stress symptoms begin to appear, including headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, sleepless nights, hearing and feeling of heartbeat, panic attacks, loss of concentration, lack of confidence, and reluctance to go outside of the house. These are all typical symptoms.

The employee typically soldiers on without taking legal advice.

It is also relatively common for the employee at this stage be subject to a performance appraisal/and/or disciplinary procedures by their employers.

The stress condition always gets worse and eventually the employee is signed off as unable to work by their GP, and is often away on long term sickness absence.

This is normally when we are first contacted by the employee. We defend any performance appraisal/disciplinary procedures raised against the employee and also raise relevant grievances with the employer.

The situation can be much better dealt with if as soon as the campaign by the line manager commences, legal advice is taken, and grievances raised etc.

It may be possible for the employee to be moved to a different department or to report to a different line manager. It is not uncommon for the employee to leave on the basis of a compromise agreement, as they cannot face working any further for the company. This is wholly understandable.

We have a wealth of experience in dealing with situations like this. We are able to provide proactive advice as to what the employee should do to protect their position and to defend any performance appraisal/disciplinary procedures, and if possible to save their job.

We would strongly recommend to any employees who are subject to such situations not to soldier on without legal help, and to raise grievances with human resources managers of the Company to endeavour to resolve the situation before things develop to the next level.

Stress/depression if serious enough may also qualify as being a qualifying disability, invoking the protection of the disability discrimination legislation- with obligations on the part of an Employer to make reasonable adjustments- such as (amongst others) shorter working hours, a phased return to work after sickness leave, altered start and finish times (to avoid the stress of travel during rush hours), and partial working from home

We are able to offer an initial fixed fee meeting of 30 minutes for £75 plus VAT, and indeed would welcome such meeting to take place by telephone if more convenient.

Reading this article is no substitute for taking legal advice in relation to your own position as each case has different underlying facts.

Lawrence Rodkin, Partner

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