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Thomas, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
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Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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i am being bullied at work, by 2 mid 50s women, who are cousins

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i am being bullied at work, by 2 mid 50's women, who are cousins and been working there for 15 plus years. I have told 3 partners, 2 who were my employers before we merged with a larger firm of accountants and also the senior partner.This bullying is ignoring me,not making me drinks when they do for others,not updating me on work related matters and basically treating me like i am not there. There is only one other woman in our office. One partner(who was senior partner who employed all of us before merger) has even refused to acknowledge the problem,one female partner who although been sympathetic has told me 'dont know what we can do??' and the senior partner has had a brief chat with me and said he will sort it but now 4 months since it came to a head has done nothing. I am finding it increasiungly difficult to work there and am very depressed. These 2 women have done this before and were apparently given warnings. Do you i have a case for constructive dismissal if i resign
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: UK Employment Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 7 years ago.



Thanks for your question.


Firstly, you must have followed the statutory grievance procedures in place in order to make a claim for constructive dismissal of this type. I note you have spoken to the partners informally about it, but you should really formalise it by writing to your line manager/HR representative setting out your complaint and stating formally that you wish to raise a grievance. The statutory procedure is there for this reason, there is a set process (grievance request - meeting - appeal) and you may be accompanied by a work colleague. Information here:-


You do have the right not to be bullied or harassed at work. Your examples appear to be borderline (although the not updating on work matters is certainly the worst if it affects your ability to do your job) but probably not quite bullying, or passive bullying of exclusion. Here are some examples of things that certainly are bullying:-

  • Spreading malicious rumours, insulting by word or behaviour
  • Copying memos that are critical of someone and shown them to others who do not need to know
  • ridiculing or demeaning someone
  • exclusion or victimisation
  • unfair treatment
  • overbearing supervision
  • misuse of a position of power
  • Making comments about job security
  • Undermining a competent worker by overloading the

You are probably suffering exclusion from these two women, albeit of a relatively benign kind (please do not take this as unsympathetic - I'm sure it is not pleasant). If there is other behaviour that fits in to the above then include this in your grievance, specify in the grievance that you are primarily concerned with the effect it may have on your work.


If you consider that you may ultimately make an employment claim for constructive dismissal (but I would advise against this unless the behaviour gets worse) then it would be useful for you to make a retrospective diary of the incidents, the more detail you give the more easily people will attach credence to your statements. You could consider going and seeing a doctor - not to medicate, but merely to gain documentary evidence that you are under stress, this again will add credibility to you position.


Hopefully, your employer and the two women in question will get prompted by your raising of a grievance in to modifying their behavior. I hope things get better for you.


Finally things get worse or you need immediate advice on the grievance procedure you can call ACAS for free on 08457 47 47 47.


If this has been useful please kindly click accept so that I may be rewarded for my time. It will be gratefully received and you will be free to ask follow up questions.

Kind regards,




Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i have emailed my senior partner to come and sort it out after the secretary, oneof the bullies didnt even scan my outgoing post into our system which is required, i had left them with only paperclips for this reason, she didnt even put staples on them before putting them in the envelope after partner signed it. Luckily i intercepted it. The 2 women who ahve done this before will not adjust thieir behavior and i think it will probably get worse. Why do i have to continually ask for this to be sorted out??? I am the only man in this office and i am a muslim also. The other office is also staffed with 3 long sderving women who also bullied a male member staff out, he went off with depression as a result. I have mentioned it to my doctor. I do have ACAS number whic hi am going to have to ring. Thanks for your advice. But it seems like bullying even if it sems minor to you is acceptable!!!!
Expert:  Thomas replied 7 years ago.



The example you have just given about effecting the work you do is a stronger example of bullying. The problems you have had in getting them to react to the situation might be because of the informal communication of your complaint. They are probably hoping that your complaint will "just go away".


Write a formal letter and specifically state you wish to initiate the statutory grievance procedure, set out the examples of bullying and tell them that look forward to hearing that they have arranged a meeting where they can address our grievance with 7 days. If they do not do this then it will prejudice any defence they raise in future in an employment claim the make (they will be punished for this - not following statutory grievance procedures are very serious indeed)


My own personal opinion is that they are bullying you, but my personal definition is slightly different to the legal definition. Initially, when you listed ignoring you and not making you drink I thought this to be impolite as opposed to bullying under the legal definition. The examples you have give where their behaviour has affected you work is probably bullying as legally defined. This still does not yet entitle you to treat yourself as constructively dismissed because you have not formally initiated the grievance procedure.


Initiate the procedure by writing to them in the above described way. If they mishandle or ignore the grievance then you will have an considerably stronger case to claim constructive dismissal against your employer.


Good luck, please kindly click accept.


Kind regards,



Edited by Thomas on 3/5/2010 at 9:52 AM EST
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