Ruling boosts protection from workplace bullies


Ruling boosts protection from workplace bullies

Will Hadfield

IT staff may sue their employers for harassment without leaving their companies and putting their careers in jeopardy, following new case law.

Peter Skyte, national officer at IT workers union Amicus, said, "Bullying is an issue in the IT sector and among IT suppliers because of the pressures of project work and tight deadlines."

The House of Lords has ruled that an employer was liable for a manager who harassed one of the people on his team. The law lords based their judgment on a law that was originally intended to provide protection against stalkers.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 entitles all employees to protection from harassment while they are at work, according to the judgment.

Large, complex IT projects with fixed budgets and deadlines can create environments ripe for staff harassment. Skyte said, "IT staff working on projects get pressured. Also, the people with the best technical skills are not always the managers with the best people skills. They can end up bullying people and pressurising them in an effort to achieve a result."

Law firm Mace & Jones said, "Under the act, it is not necessary for the victim of the harassment to prove that they have suffered an injury. Damages may be claimed in cases of bullying in which there is no apparent element of race or sex discrimination."

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