New Year's Resolution: Facing Your Demons
Many people dread the return to work after a break from the office during the Christmas period. Often this is just as a result of having less free time to eat chocolate and watch endless amounts of television, but for others it is because they are returning to a difficult working relationship or even bullying or sexual harassment.
Having time away from such unwanted behaviour can highlight its unwanted nature and result in anxiety at the thought of it becoming part of the day to day routine once again.
It is important to remember that we do not have to tolerate unwanted behaviour at work. Such behaviour can make people feel intimidated, offended, humiliated or worthless. One option when dealing with such behaviour is to raise a concern directly with the colleague that is causing the difficulties.
However, often this will not be possible because the thought of the confrontation will be too much, and if so then the next option would be to approach your line manager on an informal basis. If they are the cause of the problem or it seems that they are not taking your concerns seriously, or if they fail to take any action to improve the situation then you can raise a grievance which is a formal complaint about the way you feel you are being treated at work.
On receipt of a grievance your employer will need to investigate your complaint and hold a meeting with you to discuss it further. If they agree that there is a problem they could take disciplinary action against the colleague who has been causing you difficulty, propose mediation so that you can try and work through your differences, offer you redeployment to a different team or, if it is your line manager who is the root of the problem, introduce a different reporting line.
If the grievance is not upheld or no action is taken and you still feel that you cannot continue with the situation at work then you may have a claim for constructive dismissal. This would mean that you would dismiss yourself (resign) as a result of the way that you are being treated and bring a claim against your employer for causing the dismissal as a result.
However, you should always take legal advice before resigning in order to maximise your chances of succeeding in a claim for constructive dismissal.