Byte Back - Cyber-bullying

Byte Back - Cyber-bullying - 
According to a recent survey 20,000 people were investigated for cyber-bullying in the last three years. However, there is likely to be a great deal more unreported cases in the workplace.

How could employers be liable for cyber-bullying? 
There are requirements under the Health & Safety legislation for the employer to provide a safe place of work. Cyber-bullying could compromise a safe workplace resulting in a personal injury claim. 
Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 employers can be vicariously liable for the acts of one of their employees in bullying another online. 
Employers could face claims of constructive dismissal if an employee's grievance against a cyber-bully is not dealt with.
The the cyber-bullying relates to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (i.e. age, sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, etc) then it may amount to harassment and a claim of unlawful discrimination even if the victim does not hold that characteristic.

How can employers defend themselves?
Employers need well thought out, transparent and fair policies on social media, bullying and harassment. They should be tailored to the specific organisation and working environment. Training should be provided on the policies. If there is a proven breach then the employer should act in a proportionate and consistent manner.

If in doubt seek legal advice.

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