Your place of work should be an inclusive and encouraging environment according to the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It states that every employer and business has a duty of care to their workers, and to ensure that workers are not exposed in any way to a risk to their health and safety. Unless an employer can prove that they did everything they reasonably could to stop any bullying and harassment within their workplace, they could be held liable for their employee’s actions.

Bullying and harassment of any level are unacceptable in the workplace and can cause undue mental anguish for the victim. It can be difficult to identify when behaviour becomes inappropriate, so this blog will highlight the definition of workplace bullying and harassment as set out under Australian law. If an employee has suffered an injury (physical or psychological) because of the bullying they may be eligible to lodge a claim for a workplace injury under the Workers Compensation Act 1987.

What is not workplace bullying?  

There are some instances where a comment or remark are not recognised as bullying or harassment. Therefore it is important to understand that not every negative workplace experience is considered bullying or harassment. Sometimes, appropriate management actions can be misconstrued as bullying. These can be performance appraisals, discipline for employee misconduct or reasonable changes to employee duties. If you are involved in any of these interactions, chances are that this is completely normal and appropriate behaviour and is not a cause for any complaint or worry. 

So what is bullying & harassment in the workplace? 

Workplace bullying can take the form of physical, verbal, or non-verbal behaviour and actions that targeted specifically one employee or a group of employees. These can include: 

  • Unwanted and demeaning practical jokes,
  • Shouting at employees, employers or visitors
  • Sarcasm at employees, employers or visitors
  • Ridiculing employees, employers or visitors
  • Physical threats
  • Psychological threats
  • Homophobic threats and insults
  • Sexual harassment
  • Racism in any form
  • Intimidating and overbearing supervision,
  • Abuse of authority by those in power,
  • Setting impossible deadlines or objectives,
  • Exclusion from meetings or communications without just reason. 

Still uncertain whether you have experienced bullying or harassment?

If you are unsure as to whether you have experienced workplace bullying and harassment, you can seek legal advice from WMCW. For more detailed information, click here. Workers compensation can be a tricky and complex situation, so it is always best to seek good legal advice if you are wanting to make a claim.