Handling a bullying, harassment or discrimination complaint at work

After you've dealt with a bullying, harassment or discrimination complaint

As an employer or manager, once you have an outcome for a complaint of bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation, it's important that you:

  • keep a record of the complaint, any investigation findings, any steps that were taken and the outcome
  • talk to the person who made the complaint

Update the person who made the complaint

It's important to tell the person who made the complaint:

  • whether their complaint was 'upheld' (you decided there's a case to answer) or not
  • what will happen next, if their complaint was upheld

If the complaint was upheld, this usually means you've decided there’s enough evidence to do one or both of the following:

  • recommend actions that need to be taken to resolve the complaint
  • follow up with a disciplinary procedure and consider disciplinary action if appropriate

If any disciplinary action is taken, you should consider telling the person who made the complaint what action was taken, if you can.

Keep an eye on the issue

It's important to make sure:

  • any unacceptable behaviour or treatment has stopped
  • nobody is treated unfairly because they made a complaint
  • nobody is treated unfairly because they supported someone else's complaint

Keep a record

For all complaints, you should keep a record of:

  • the complaint
  • any evidence you’ve found
  • any steps you've taken to deal with it
  • whether the complaint was upheld or not, and the reasons why
  • how it was resolved, if it was possible

If you handled the complaint formally, it's important to also keep a record of:

  • any investigation findings
  • the complaint hearing
  • any appeal, including the appeal hearing
  • if the complaint resulted in a disciplinary procedure, and any disciplinary action

Records will be useful if:

  • the same issue comes up again
  • an issue raised informally is raised formally later on
  • an employee decides to make a claim to an employment tribunal

If there's legal action

An employee might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal because they've been harassed, discriminated against or victimised. If this happens, the things an employment tribunal will look at can include:

  • how it has affected the employee
  • what you've done to address their complaint
  • how you've handled any similar situations in the past

If an employee makes a claim to an employment tribunal, it's a good idea to get legal advice.

Preventing discrimination, bullying and harassment

After you've dealt with a complaint, it's also important to try to prevent bullying, harassment, discrimination and victimisation in the future.

Depending on your findings from looking into a complaint, you might decide to take steps to address an issue.

For example, you might decide to:

  • train line managers on a specific issue, for example sexual harassment or unconscious bias
  • train all staff on a specific issue and what to do if they experience or witness unacceptable behaviour
  • review your organisation’s policies, for example your policy on bullying and harassment
  • make clearer to employees what support is available if they experience or see unacceptable behaviour at work

Find out more about improving equality, diversity and inclusivity at work.

Help and support

For more advice about your options you can:

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