Bullying and Discrimination

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Bullying and Discrimination

Bullying is unreasonable behaviour which poses a risk to health and safety if repeated regularly over time. Reasonable behaviour which does not pose a risk to health and safety can still be discrimination. Discrimination is inconsistent behaviour that adversely effects a member of a protected group. Unlike bullying, discrimination does not need to be repeated and there is no exception for reasonable management action. Inconsistent behaviour can also adversely effect employees who are not part of a protected group, but that is not classed as discrimination.

The most common protected attributes of a person include race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, and national extraction or social origin. Doing, threatening or organising adverse action discrimination includes dismissing an employee, injuring an employee, altering an employee’s position, discriminating between one employee and other employees, refusing to employ a prospective employee or offering discriminating terms and conditions in an offer of employment. That means the discrimination can affect someone who is not an employee yet.

Fairness through the consistent application of management action is the positive solution to discrimination. This can be achieved in anti-bullying policy to prevent discrimination, however as discrimination does not need to be repeated, a single event can lead to legal expenses. A positive code of conduct associated with anti-bullying policy can provide leadership support to stop discrimination through positive workplace culture before it starts to cost legal fees. Emotional awareness and fairness training are essential to provide the skills necessary to identify discriminatory behaviour and protect those who are not part of a protected group, through the consistent application of management action in all circumstances.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

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