How to Prove Harassment

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ONRECORD will help you gather evidence to prove harassment and bullying

The terms harassment and bullying are used interchangeably by most people, and many definitions include bullying as a form of harassment, whether it’s in the workplace or outside the working environment.

Although bullying can be just the same as harassment it is not in itself a criminal offence, whereas harassment is. Unless bullying amounts to conduct defined as harassment in the Equality Act 2010 it is not possible to make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal about it.

Harassment and bullying can make you feel anxious, humiliated, angry and demotivated. It can also lead to illness, absence from work, job insecurity and even resignation. Almost always job performance is affected and relations in the workplace suffer.

Employers are responsible for preventing harassment and bullying at work and it is in their interests to try to prevent it because the costs to the business may lead to poor employee relations, low morale, inefficiency and potentially the loss of staff.

What can I do if I’m being bullied or harassed at work?

See if you can sort it out yourself first. If you can’t, talk to your:

  • Manager;
  • Human resources (HR) department; or
  • Trade union representative

If this does not work, you can make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure. If this does not work and the problem continues you can take legal action at an employment tribunal.

Employers’ responsibilities

Employers are responsible for preventing harassment and bullying and they’re liable for any harassment suffered by their employees.

Anti-bullying and harassment policies can help prevent problems.

How to prove harassment with ONRECORD

At ONRECORD, we have developed a series of online resources to help you record and gather evidence to prove you are being harassed or bullied. We have a free app which can you download and use, offering a simple and confidential way to gather the evidence you need.

To find out more about our evidence gathering tools, click here, or read our top tips below for how to prove harassment.

  • Refer to the list of behaviours that define harassment at work and use ONRECORD to make a record every time one of them occurs.
  • You may want to use different labels to separately record different kinds of behaviour. For example you could keep records of undermining your competency, excluding you from other team members, being criticised in front of colleagues or whatever different kinds of trouble you are suffering. Sorting events under different labels will make it easier for a reader to see the extent and frequency of each problem and seriousness of each incident.
  • Record whether there were any witnesses and who they were.
  • Record whether other people are experiencing similar problems.
  • Record what the perpetrator(s) did after harassing you.
  • After you make each record, ONRECORD invites you to give the incident an impact score. It’s helpful to say why you have given it that score – for example whether the incident caused fear of violence or serious alarm or distress and to whom. It’s really important to be sure the reader understands the severity, frequency, effect and impact.
  • Make sure you record any other effects on you – any physical effect, any social effect (such as stopping meeting people or going to some places).
  • Don’t give up keeping records – they will be crucial if you don’t get a good enough response from the police and they will be excellent evidence when you get help from lawyers and other helping agencies.
  • Because you need to prove a course of conduct, by which we mean a series of behaviours, you should include a record of all repeats of events. The number and frequency of events will illustrate how the pressure builds on you (for example repeated offensive emails – take screenshots and upload them).
  • Make a record of what you do about it too. For example, if you are being harassed at work and can go to your HR Dept. to tell them what’s happened, put that in the records too.

If you don’t make good records you’re really at a disadvantage. Remember, keeping records is what anyone who has a professional job, doctors, lawyers, police, anybody, does because it is the evidence they will rely on. It could be the difference between being heard and helped and being ignored.

If you keep good and detailed records of every event, you’ll end up with a chronology report, organised by date and time. That’s a weapon you can use against the person(s) harassing you.

Your chronology report will also be helpful if those you try to get help from don’t take action or later deny knowing about the extent or seriousness of the problem such as the police or social services if they get involved. Anyone who lets you down needs to know that, if they get investigated, they will be in trouble for not taking you seriously.

Equally if you’re lucky enough to get good support and help then your records will be excellent evidence to use. Make sure anyone you complain to realises you have your records to support what you’re saying.

Using ONRECORD you don’t part with your records, you just share them. They can’t be “lost” in the system that way.

We also recommend visiting the ACAS website for helpful guidance to support your case.