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What is workplace bullying?

This is an abuse of power or position to coerce others by fear, persecution or to oppress them by force or threat. It is an offensive discrimination. It can take so many forms and can occur in a variety of situations and crosses gender, age, race and can involve just one person or a number of people.

Employees are discriminated against by undermining them, hurting and humiliating them. These attitudes can make their lives a misery that can affect their work performance and damage their careers.

Bullies are often insecure people who do not trust others and see them as a threat to their own positions and can cause suffering to the person be bullied by shouting, personal insults, public humiliation, undervaluing effort and negative personal criticism.

It is a gradual wearing down process that makes individuals feels demeaned and inadequate, that they can never get anything right and that they are made to feel hopeless in both their work environment and domestic life. Many individuals who bully will justify their behaviour as a necessary means of motivating an employee in the highly competitive commercial environment that business is in today.

The effect on the employer is not productive.

  • Numerous days are lost with sick leave that are a result of stress related illnesses.
  • Increased absenteeism.
  • Reduced productivity.
  • Higher staff turnover and costly recruitment and training of replacement staff.
  • Low staff morale.
  • Costly law suits - tribunal cases.
  • There is also the risk factor to the company's image and customer confidence.

The law and bullying in the workplace

Although there is no specific legislation in the UK that deals with workplace bullying but laws from the following Acts may be applicable and relevant.

  • Crime and Disorder Act 1998
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1995
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Disability Discrimination Act 2004 ( amends the Disability Discrimination Act 1995)
  • Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution ) Regulations 2004
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Health and Safety At Work Act 1974
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Race Relations Act 1997
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975


** January 2007 Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 4 **

The uproar over the serial mocking of an Indian Bollywood film star Shilpa Shetty, 31 in the British reality TV Celebrity Big Brother show threatened to become an international incident Wednesday 17th January 2007 as officials of both nations expressed concern over allegations of racism. Shilpa Shetty has been repeatedly reduced to tears by fellow contestant Jade Goody, who has called the actress' cooking untrustworthy, mocked her accent and complained about her "screeching." The Indian government said it was keeping tabs on the situation.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's likely successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, condemned the conduct of some of the show's contestants. In New Delhi, Anand Sharma, India's junior minister for external affairs, said the government is preparing a report on the show.

Channel 4 has issued a statement regarding the ongoing allegations of racism and bullying in the Big Brother house -

"To date there has been no overt racial abuse or racist behaviour directed against Shilpa Shetty within the Big Brother house. However there has undoubtedly been a cultural and class clash between her and three of the British females in the house.

"Unambiguous racist behaviour and language is not tolerated under any circumstances in the Big Brother house. Housemates are constantly monitored and Channel 4 would intervene if a clear instance of this arose.

"It is in the nature of Big Brother that conflicts arise and housemates are encouraged to resolve issues among themselves.

"Shilpa has not voiced any concerns of racial abuse to Big Brother. Housemates have access to support from Big Brother at all times.

"The issue of whether there is racism in the CBB House has been discussed on Channel 4's companion programmes CBBLB and BB's BM and a range of views has been aired, including those of BB viewers."

Over 20,000 complaints have been sent to Ofcom and Channel 4 over allegations of racism and bullying, a statistic that has broken the record for the most-complained about show in UK television history. On Friday January 19th "007 Jade Goody was voted out of the Big Brother house.

jml Training and Consultancy takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the Big Brother Bullying allegations information above.


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