What is the difference between Harassment and Bullying?

In my last blog, I explained that Harassment and Bullying have a lot in common.  So why do we need two words?

Here is my simple way of understanding the difference.

 Harassment is a form of DISCRIMINATION

 For harassment to occur, a person has to prove that they were on the receiving end of the unacceptable behaviour because of their:

  •  Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

 These are known as the seven ‘protected characteristics’. 

 Bullying is mean behaviour to one or more people.

 For example, if a member of staff was offensive in some way to all members of their team, they could say they were being bullied by that person.

 However, if that member of staff was only offensive to the women in the team, the women could say they were being sexually harassed by that person.  In other words, they were being treated that way because they were women.  If someone picks on only staff from certain ethnic groups, this could be construed as racial harassment.

 Harassment could take place if someone was treated in an offensive and unacceptable way because of any of the seven protected characteristics.

 If our behaviour can be construed as discriminatory as well as offensive, we could be faced with a harassment claim.   Or, if there is no evidence of us picking on someone because of one of the seven protected characteristics but we nevertheless abuse our power in some way, we could be told we are bullying them.

 Harassment and Bullying have unpleasant, damaging and time-consuming effects on our workplaces.  If you would like to learn how to confidently:

  • Understand the difference between harassment and bullying
  • Know your rights and responsibilities as a manager and worker
  • Understand your legal responsibilities and how to avoid legal pitfalls
  • Know the difference between bullying and strong, fair management
  • Ensure your staff behave appropriately at work – so cutting down on bullying and harassment grievances and complaints

click here for full details of how to immediately download my unique, online learning pack.  I have demystified harassment and bullying and simplified the concepts involved.  By working through this pack, anyone in the workplace can become aware of these important issues and learn to manage and interact in an appropriate way.