What you can do about Workplace Bullying

If you have gone the informal route and tried all of the tips on handling Workplace Bullying, yet feel that your complaint about bullying has not been dealt with properly by your employer, there are a number of formal routes you can take depending on the specifics of your situation.

Rights Commissioner: The Health and Safety Authority Code of Practice states that you may bring your complaint to the Rights Commissioner Service under the Industrial Relations Acts 1969-2001, using the Rights Commissioner complaint form. Rights Commissioners are independent adjudicators who investigate disputes referred to them under specific legislation. They are the main State Agency with responsibility towards bullying and can assess internal investigations to check procedural fairness as well as carrying out investigations themselves. Their findings are issued to the parties in the form of non-binding recommendations. The Rights Commissioner will expect you to have tried to resolve the problem with the organisation, and any records you have kept will be considered when it hears your claim. 

Employment equality: The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2008 place an obligation on all employers in Ireland to prevent harassment in the workplace. Harassment including sexual harassment that is based on any of the following nine grounds – gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community – is a form of discrimination in relation to conditions of employment. Bullying which is linked to one of the discriminatory grounds above comes under the Employment Equality Acts. If you are being bullied in relation to one of the nine grounds for discrimination, you can bring your case to the Equality Tribunal (using form EE1).

Health and safety: If your workplace does not have an adequate bullying policy you can make a formal complaint about this to the Workplace Contact Unit of the Health and Safety Authority. If you feel you are being bullied you can make a complaint about your rights under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act to the Rights Commissioner Service. The complaint form can be downloaded from thewebsite of the Labour Relations Commission.

Unfair dismissal: If the bullying becomes unbearable so much so that you fear to remain would damage your health and/or well-being and you are forced to leave your job, you may be entitled to claim constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977-2007. 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. It is recommended that you should obtain legal advice about your rights before leaving your job. If you qualify under the unfair dismissals legislation, you may make a claim to the Employment Appeals Tribunal by completing form T1-A. If the Tribunal agrees that you were “constructively dismissed”, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.

Victimisation: If you bring a claim under employment equality, health and safety, or unfair dismissals legislation you cannot then be subjected to victimisation at work.

Personal injury claim: If the bullying or harassment 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 for compensation for personal injury. You cannot seek compensation from your employer under the health and safety legislation but you can make a personal injury claim through the Injuries Board.

Time limits: Complaints under the Employment Equality Acts and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act must be brought within 6 months. This time limit can be increased to 12 months if “reasonable cause” for the delay can be shown
Claims under the Unfair Dismissal Acts must be made within 6 months of the date of the termination of employment. This time limit may be extended to 12 months in cases where exceptional circumstances have prevented the lodgement of the claim within 6 months.

Further information is available from the Health and Safety Authority.