Welcome back to our column from Claudette Lawrence, a disabled campaigner and activist from Thamesmead.

She has a strong interest in current affairs and local issues, and is passionate about eliminating the stigma of mental health. Here she shares her views and advice on issues that are close to her heart in Claudette's Concerns.

When talking about bullying most people think about the school playground, but for many adults it happens in their place of work and often feels like there is no escape.

In the workplace, it may take the form of a group of people making the workplace intimidating or humiliating. The purpose is to harm dignity, safety, and wellbeing.

What are the signs of workplace bullying?

  • Shouting or aggressive behaviour
  • Constant criticism
  • Constantly ignored
  • Having duties taken away
  • Misuse of power or position to make someone feel uncomfortable or victimized.
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Undermining someone
  • Denying training or promotion opportunities

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Are you protected from bullying by the law?

Bullying itself is not against the law but if a colleague or manager behaves in a way such as being intimidating or offensive it could constitute harassment which is illegal under the Equality Act 2010.

Examples of harassment include:

  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy or paternity rights
  • Religion or disability

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What to do to solve the problem?

You should normally inform human resources, or a trade union representative if applicable.

You can also follow the usual grievance procedure and if necessary take it to an official employment tribunal.

Your employer has a legal obligation to protect you against abusive behaviour in the workplace. It can help if an employer has anti-bullying and harassment policies in place.

Top tips to beat the bullies include getting to know the company policies on bullying in the workplace and documenting any incident of harassment in detail including dates and times.

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The effects of bullying can be devastating and have a detrimental effect on someone's health. It can lead to stress or depression and can create an unhappy and unproductive workplace Also it can cause low morale and loss of respect for managers or supervisors.

Poor performance at work, absence and resignations can all be costly and lead to employment tribunals.

The largest survey of workplaces in Britain, the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS), reported that three per cent of workplaces with 10 or more employees had experienced at least one grievance relating to bullying and harassment.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development recently reported that stress is now the major cause of long-term sickness.

If you think you might be experiencing harassment at work, please see the organisations below that may be of help:

  • ACAS helpline: 0300 123 1100, textphone: 18001-0300-123-1100
  • www.bullying.co.uk/bullying-at-work/
  • www.gov.uk/workplace-bullying-and-harassment

Do not suffer in silence, early intervention is important.