Defining workplace bullying – landmark judgment clarifies key principles


Author: Seamus Given, Louise O’Byrne and Rachel Barry

A landmark court decision has provided essential practical guidance to employers seeking clarity on what constitutes bullying under Irish law. In a split decision, the Court of Appeal in Ruffley v Board of Management of St Anne’s School overturned the highest ever award of damages to an employee for workplace bullying on the grounds that the defendant’s actions did not constitute workplace bullying.

Workplace bullying is defined under Irish law as “repeated inappropriate behaviour… which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.” As it can be difficult to determine when this threshold has been met in practice, the Court’s detailed consideration of the definition of workplace bullying is an important development for employers. The conclusions of the Court and the key lessons for employers following the decision are outlined below.

Read the full briefing here.


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