It’s a sad fact that bullying occurs in the workplace more often than we’d like. Most bullying occurrences go unreported in Australian workplaces, and many incidents occur in small- to medium-level businesses in the private sector. These are disturbing facts when we consider the impact on mental and physical health, not to mention employee productivity.
Bullying is defined as repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee by one person or a group. It can cause many serious problems, including the following:
- Emotional distress and feelings of decreased self-worth
- Anxiety and depression
- Stress leave
- Regular days off, as the victim seeks to alleviate the bullying and get away from a hostile environment
- Physical intimidation
- Underperformance at work, as the victim lacks motivation and confidence, feels undervalued, or nurtures feelings of resentment against the employer
As a result of these serious side effects, a bullying victim may need to undergo hospitalisation or therapy, or be treated with prescription medication. Some workplaces unknowingly even encourage bullying behaviour, and the results of this can be devastating for the victim. This is why it’s important for workplace bullying lawyers to advocate for victims and put a stop to bullying behaviour. A reliable legal firm experienced in this area will be able to stop the bullying, prevent further bullying behaviour, uphold the rights of the victim and protect their professional reputation.
Laws against Bullying in the Workplace
Federal anti-bullying laws were introduced in Australia on 1 January 2014. This is an important law for both employers and employees, as it recognises the reality of workplace bullying and informs the employer that it is unacceptable.
For employees in such a situation, the federal anti-bullying laws mean that if you are experiencing repeated bullying behaviour from an individual or group within your workplace, and it is having a detrimental effect on your physical and/or mental health, then you have the right to pursue legal advice in relation to that bullying.
Knowing When to Seek Legal Advice
Bullying behaviour can sometimes be hard to determine, but there’s no denying when an employee feels bullied. But what are the signs of bullying from the point of view of the potential victim? Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you feel like you can never do anything right by your supervisor/team leader/manager or colleague?
- Are you repeatedly spoken to by the potential bully, or having your work reviewed more than your other colleagues, for reasons that seem petty and minor?
- Do you feel like you are being targeted or singled out unfairly by a group or individual in your place of work for reasons that are either not obvious to you or seem minor?
- Do you feel stressed or anxious each time you walk into your workplace because of the behaviour of another person or group towards you?
- Are you being harassed or teased by a group or individual and made to feel humiliated or embarrassed in front of your colleagues?
Though a lot of bullying takes place in the presence of others in the workplace, it’s also important to note that bullying can be discrete too. You may be being bullied without the knowledge of your colleagues, so be aware of the signs of workplace bullying and call reliable legal representation to get some sage advice about what you can do to stop it.