Bullying and harassment are defined by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the Equality Act 2010 as:
“Bullying is defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour and an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.”
“Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient.”
Firstly, it is important to remember that employers have a duty of care to their employees, contractors, clients and visitors.
Bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated and should be taken seriously by both the employer and the employee(s). If you witness this behaviour, please report it.
Compliance officers for legal practice (COLP) should report such behaviour to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), as such behaviour is in conflict with:
- principle 2 – act with integrity
- principle 9 – run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity
If you’re stuck in a situation where you’re being bullied and/or suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace, then make sure you reach out when the situation first arises.
You can email the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD). While we’re unable to give you specific advice, we can point you in the right direction and provide support.
You may also reach out to the Solicitors Assistance Scheme (SAS). The SAS are solicitor volunteers who give free advice to solicitors, trainees and anyone working in the legal profession.
All advice is confidential and if you want to remain anonymous you can. You can call the SAS on 0207 117 8811 or by emailing email@example.com.
Another great organisation, specifically for those working in the legal sector, is LawCare.
LawCare is a charity that supports those working in the legal sector (or their families) through difficult periods. This can include mental ill-health such as stress, anxiety and depression.
You can call LawCare on 0800 279 6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other useful resources and support services include:
- the government’s advice on bullying and harassment
- Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
- the Practice Advice Service offers free and confidential support and advice on legal practice and procedure open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday on 020 7320 5675
- Lawyerline provides advice on client care and complaints handling, including how to resolve complaints directly with clients and how to engage effectively with the Legal Ombudsman on 020 7320 5720 and email@example.com
- our guidance on resilience and wellbeing
Please do not wait until it’s too late.