There are several legal processes available for dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace. The process that best applies in each case will depend on a number of factors such as whether the employee is a national system employee or public service employee as well as the individual facts of each dispute.
For national system employees who work in a constitutionally covered business, a complaints process is available through the Fair Work Commission. Where a worker reasonably believes that he or she has been bullied at work they can apply to the Commission for an order to stop the bullying.
Note: If you are not a national system employee you may be eligible to pursue a bullying complaint through the Queensland Human Rights Commission. If you’re public service employee and require further information about your options, please get in contact with us. The following information relates to national system employees only.
Workplace bullying occurs when a person (or a group) repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker (or a group of workers) and the behaviour creates a risk to the worker’s health and safety.
Bullying behaviour can include a broad range of acts or inactions, but typically includes: aggressive or intimidating conduct; belittling or humiliating comments; the spreading of malicious rumours; teasing or practical jokes; exclusion and isolation in the workplace; unreasonable work expectations; and/or display of offensive material.
If you believe you are being bullied at work it is important to seek legal advice before lodging a complaint. This is because certain action, such as reasonable management action, will not constitute workplace bullying. For this reason, it is very important that you have the relevant behaviour assessed prior to making a complaint to ensure that you are eligible and have good prospects of success.
The Fair Work Commission bullying process can be accessed by employees, contractors or subcontractors, employees of contractors or subcontractors, employees of labour hire companies, outworkers, apprentices or trainees, students and volunteers. In other words, the process is not limited to the traditional employee.
Only workers who work in a constitutionally covered business are eligible to pursue a bullying complaint.
If you have been dismissed from your employment, you will not be eligible to pursue a bullying claim. Instead, you will need to consider your legal rights for unfair dismissal or general protection claims.
Note: If you are not a national system employee you may be eligible to pursue a bullying complaint through the Queensland Human Rights Commission. If you a public service employee and require further information about your options, please get in contact with us.
Once an application for bullying has been lodged with the Fair Work Commission, the Commission will send a copy of the application to the employer (and any individual respondents named in the application) for response. The matter will then typically be listed for a mediation, but other steps could involve a conference or hearing. This is an opportunity for the employer and employee to resolve the bullying dispute.
Employees can be legally represented at conciliation conferences. If you require legal representation please get in touch.
If the dispute cannot be resolved at a mediation and proceeds to a hearing or conference, the Commission will make decide the matter. This involves consideration of whether bullying has occurred and whether there is a risk of further bullying conduct occurring unless a suitable order is made by the Commission.
Orders could include: requiring the individual (or group of individuals) to stop the bullying conduct; regular monitoring of behaviours by the employer (and any individuals directly involved); mandating that the employer comply with its bullying policy or review their bullying policy; mandating that the employer provide further information, support and training to staff.
If you’d like to have a quick chat to see if it looks like you have a case, then our complimentary 20-minute call option is the perfect place to start.
If you’re ready to proceed with finding your voice in the workplace, you can book in for a 1 hour paid consultation for a detailed and tailored discussion about your legal options and prospects.
The consultation is conducted via telephone or online conference call.
The cost is $330 plus GST and is payable at the time of booking.
If you’d prefer to meet face to face, perhaps because of the complexity of the matter and the need to piece out a more detailed case strategy, or you just prefer to meet in person, our 2-hour Legal Advice and Strategy Session is the best place to start.
We offer face to face meetings at either an office location, coffee shop or any other mutually convenient space on the Gold Coast.
The cost is $650 plus GST and is payable at the time of booking.
The information provided on this page is of a general nature only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice applicable to your specific circumstances. Specific legal advice is provided through our consultation sessions.