The claimant sought damages from her former employers, asserting that workplace bullying and harassment had caused injury to her health. She had had a long term history of depression after being abused as a child, and the evidence was conflicting, but she said that the renewed depression arose after many low level acts of exclusion by fellow employees.
Held: The claim succeeded. The claimant ‘was subjected to a relentless campaign of mean and spiteful behaviour designed to cause her distress’ and ‘the connection between the nature of the employment of the women in question and the behaviour in issue was so close that it would be just and reasonable to hold the defendant liable for it. ‘ and ‘Bullying can take many forms. As I have already observed, and as was acknowledged by the claimant, the incidents upon which she relies when viewed individually are not of major significance. It is their cumulative effect that is of importance. His behaviour to her was domineering, disrespectful, dismissive, confrontatory, and designed to undermine and belittle her in the view of others. I am satisfied that such a course of conduct pursued over a considerable period amounted to bullying within the ordinary meaning of the term. ‘ Accordingly the claimant stands to be compensated for two major episodes of depressive disorder followed by a period of four years in which she has not been well enough to return to work and in which her capacity to enjoy life to the full has been seriously disrupted in particular by the relapse in her condition in 2004. She is also entitled to be compensated for the degree to which her vulnerability to depressive disorder has been increased.
The Honourable Mr Justice Owen
 EWHC 1898 (QB),  IRLR 764
Protection from Harassment Act 1997 1 7
England and Wales
Cited – Garrett v Camden London Borough Council CA 16-Mar-2001
The court considered a claim for work related stress. The claimant asserted that he had been harassed, intimidated and systematically undermined: ‘Many, alas, suffer breakdowns and depressive illnesses and a significant proportion could doubtless . .
Cited – Majrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust CA 16-Mar-2005
The claimant had sought damages against his employer, saying that they had failed in their duty to him under the 1997 Act in failing to prevent harassment by a manager. He appealed a strike out of his claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The . .
Cited – Bernard v The Attorney General of Jamaica PC 7-Oct-2004
PC (Jamaica) The claimant had been queuing for some time to make an overseas phone call at the Post Office. Eventually his turn came, he picked up the phone and dialled. Suddenly a man intervened, announced . .
Cited – Barlow v Borough of Broxbourne QBD 2003
The claimant sought damages alleging having been bullied and harassed at work.
Held: The questions to be determined when considering whether alleged bullying and harassment give rise to a potential liability in negligence were: ‘(i) whether . .
Cited – Sutherland v Hatton; Barber v Somerset County Council and similar CA 5-Feb-2002
Defendant employers appealed findings of liability for personal injuries consisting of an employee’s psychiatric illness caused by stress at work.
Held: Employers have a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of their employees. There are . .
Cited – Thomas v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Simon Hughes CA 18-Jul-2001
A civilian police worker had reported officers for racist remarks. The newspaper repeatedly printed articles and encouraged correspondence which was racially motivated, to the acute distress of the complainant.
Held: Repeated newspaper stories . .
Cited – Lister and Others v Hesley Hall Ltd HL 3-May-2001
A school board employed staff to manage a residential school for vulnerable children. The staff committed sexual abuse of the children. The school denied vicarious liability for the acts of the teachers.
Held: ‘Vicarious liability is legal . .
Approved – Hammond v International Network Services UK Ltd QBD 1-Nov-2007
Peter Coulson QC J said that in order to establish harassment under the 1997 Act, there must be conduct:
i) which occurs on at least two occasions;
ii) which is targeted at the claimant;
iii) which is calculated in an objective sense . .
Cited – Rayment v Ministry of Defence QBD 18-Feb-2010
The claimant sought damages alleging harassment by officers employed by the defendant. An internal investigation had revealed considerable poor behaviour by the senior officers, and that was followed by hostile behaviour. The defendant had put up . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Negligence, Personal Injury, Employment, Vicarious Liability
Updated: 10 December 2021; Ref: scu.244131