Have you been subjected to harassment or bullying in the workplace?
Speaking up against someone who has bullied you in the workplace is often a challenging and often terrifying thought and coming forth is usefully immeasurably harder because of the damaging effects it may have had on a person both physically and psychologically.
According to a study conducted in partnership between Beyond Blue and the University of Wollongong, around 40% of all Australians have experienced some form of workplace bullying or harassment over the course of their working life. Employers in this day and age have a very strong obligation to keep employees safe in the workplace; this means free from not only physical injuries but also psychological injuries as well.
The Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 defines bullying as unreasonable and repeated behaviour towards a worker (or group of workers) which creates a risk to health and safety.
If you’ve been the victim of workplace bullying, it can be devastating for both you as the victim of the bullying but also on your family as well as it can impact severely upon family life. Fortunately, there is both Federal and State legislation which offers a range of protections against offensive, insulting, intimidating or unfavourable treatment in the workplace for employees. On the other hand, it is vitally important for employers to know the legal requirements and policies needed to keep their employees safe.
What is bullying behaviour?
Workplace bullying is generally classed as either ‘work-related’ or ‘person-related’. An excerpt from the study “Workplace Bullying in Australia” describes it as follows;
“Work-related bullying occurs when an employee attempts to dominate another employee by targeting and deliberately impeding their work. Examples include unreasonable demands, withholding necessary information, delegation of menial tasks, and excessive monitoring of work.
Person-related bullying refers to attempts to undermine and demoralise victims in terms of their personal qualities. Examples include ignoring, undermining, spreading rumours, threats, and aggression.“
In severe cases, workplace bullying can lead to physical injury. If you have developed a workplace-related injury as a result of workplace bullying, you may also be entitled to make a workers compensation claim against your employer. If this has occurred, please contact us straight away.
What to do if you’ve been a victim of bullying?
Lodge a complaint with your employer
If you’ve experienced bullying in the workplace the first step we recommend straight away is to lodge a grievance with your employer. While we know this might seem difficult, in most cases this is one of the first steps that you’re expected to take under most workplace policies.
When lodging the grievance ideally do it in writing and outline the adverse effects the bullying is having on your health and wellbeing. This may include psychological distress, sleep disturbance, anxiety and other general ill health such as stomach pains and headaches.
Seek medical assistance
Contact your medical practitioner or GP and advise them of the situation. Let your GP know exactly what’s happened and they will document all of the particulars. Where needed, they will be able to refer you to a specialist, so you can get that hands-on care that you need to help you through this difficult time.
Keep a record
Ensure you keep a detailed record of all incidences of bullying you have experienced. Take note of the what was said or how you were bullied or harassed including when it happened and by whom.
We also recommend the following if you need additional support or information:
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
- Lifeline 13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/
When it comes to workplace bullying or harassment in the workplace, it can be very daunting and you may feel it is difficult to actually raise some of those issues with your employer particularly if it is a supervisor or somebody higher up than you that is the cause of that bullying.
We want to reassure you there is legislation in place to protect you in the workplace and we are more than happy to have a free, no-obligation discussion to help you navigate this process.
This blog is for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to any specific issues.