HR managers and employers need to take steps to ensure banter between colleagues does not become bullying and harassment, as they could be liable for any compensation.
Joy Drummond, employment partner at law firm Simpson Millar, writing for building.co.uk, points to the “landmark” case of Majrowski vs Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust 2005, where a ruling took place that an employer could be liable when harassment occurs among its employees.
She notes that while courts have attempted to set up a high barrier to ensure that the complaint must be serious, due to the subjective nature of the workplace, cases may come to court which employers mistakenly believed would not exceed this threshold.
“Where the line between banter and harassment is blurred, employers need to be especially aware of behaviour that could lead to claims,” Ms Drummond asserts.
She recommends drawing up a risk assessment of which employees may be likely to be harassed to make such an incident more recognisable, while she also urges employers to make themselves approachable.
Should a worker come forwards and complain of bullying, an internal investigation should be launched, the legal exert noted.
Ms Drummond concluded harassment claims are growing in popularity.
The Telegraph recently reported a delivery driver from Wales has accused the office manager at his former place of work of bullying him.