Workplace Bullying Series – Part 3: What to do when you receive a bullying complaint


Following on from our previous article, where we discussed the prevention of workplace bullying, we now turn to the steps a manager or leader can take when bullying happens or is alleged.  The most effective response will be one that is consistent with workplace policies and wider employment law obligations (which can become a minefield when multiple people are involved!).

Employers’ responsibilities generally

An employer’s overarching duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace should underpin every decision made with regards to a bullying complaint.  There are often more than two employees involved in bullying situations – all to whom the employer owes a duty of care.

The subject-matter, number of witnesses and steps taken in respect of a bullying complaint can all increase an employer’s legal liability if bullying concerns remain unresolved.  We recommend employers seek legal advice as soon as possible after receiving a bullying complaint to ensure obligations are met.

Practical steps you can take when addressing a bullying complaint

Generally, managers and leaders who have been made aware of bullying should:

You may have noticed that these are all steps that might need to be taken before raising the concern with the person that may be behaving in a way that could amount to bullying.   All too often employers leap into a process without first considering whether that process is in fact necessary.  Leaping in too early can have its own legal risk.

The team at Black Door Law are experienced in guiding employers through the resolution of bullying and harassment complaints.  Get in touch with the team if you need to address potential bullying in your workplace.

Disclaimer:  This information is intended as general legal information and does not constitute legal advice.  If you have a specific issue and wish to discuss it, get in contact with the Black Door Law team.

This article is part of a 6 part series on Workplace Bullying, our other articles in the series can be found in the following links:

Workplace Bullying – What is workplace bullying

Workplace Bullying – Prevention is better than cure

Workplace Bullying – Obligations to the complainant

Workplace Bullying – The forgotten person (obligations to the respondent)

Workplace Bullying – The impact of on modern workplace on workplace bullying