Harassment at Work Compensation Claims

Should you sustain psychological injury as a result of harassment at work it may be possible to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation against your employer or if different, the employer of the individual responsible for the harassment. This is under the terms of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Under the Act it is a criminal offence for any person to pursue a course of action which they should have appreciated amounted to harassment. Whilst no specific definition is provided of harassment within the legislation, the Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. In addition to creating a criminal offence, the Protection from Harassment Act allows claims for personal injury compensation against the person responsible for the harassment. In certain circumstances employers may be held responsible for the actions of their employees which amount to harassment although for this to be the case it will be necessary to show that the harassment itself arose through the course of their employment and not simply because they knew the individual concerned through their work place.

When pursuing a claim for personal injury compensation under the Protection from Harassment Act it is necessary to show that there were at least two separate acts both of which were serious enough to give rise to a criminal offence, even if no criminal action is pursued. It is not however necessary to establish that you have suffered a ‘recognisable psychiatric injury’ as a result of the harassment. Instead under the terms of the Act it is possible to recover compensation for anxiety alone.

An alternative to a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act is a claim through the employment tribunal under the terms of the Equality Act 2010. Accordingly you should seek expert legal advice in order to establish which type of claim may be the most appropriate in the circumstances.

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