When it comes to claims involving bullying and harassment in the workplace, there’s an overlap between personal injury law and employment law.
This is important to know because, if you’ve been bullied at work, you will need to seek advice from two professionals: a personal injuries lawyer and an employment law specialist. Combined, these lawyers will give you a complete understanding of all your legal rights.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Bullying or harassment within the workplace can constitute:
- humiliating abuse
- ignoring or excluding a person
- giving an employee tasks that are meaningless or unachievable
- undermining performance
- physical, sexual or verbal abuse.
What isn’t considered Workplace Bullying?
If you are witnessing or experiencing the following within the workplace, this is not classified as bullying and would not constitute a claim in most instances:
- an employer/manager making decisions in relations to poor workplace performance
- disciplinary action taken against an employee
- directly controlling (in a reasonable manner) the way that work is performed
What is the Role of the Employer When Workplace Bullying Occurs?
Employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees are kept safe while they are at work. This applies to both physical and psychological injuries. An employer who allows bullying to occur in the workplace is not meeting their obligation to provide a safe workplace.
Is Bullying at Work Illegal?
An employer is vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. This means that the employer may not be directly aware of what has been going on inside the workplace but a claim may be brought against the employer rather than the bully directly.
Under anti-discrimination law, it is unlawful to treat an employee differently due to their sexual orientation, race, disability, gender, or age, with unlawful actions being considered as bullying or harassment.
Workplace Bullying and Employment Law
A victim of bullying or harassment in the workplace may be entitled to damages for any psychological injury that results from such treatment, as well as associated medical expenses and resulting financial losses. Under the workers’ compensation laws in Queensland, a worker will be entitled to compensation for psychological injuries if the worker can show that the employment is the significant contributing factor to the injury and that the employer failed to take reasonable management action to prevent the injury.
How to Deal With Workplace Bullying
If you are being bullied or harassed at work, consider taking these steps:
- Tell your employer, HR officer or supervisor (unless he or she is the bully).
- Seek counselling and support.
- Go to your doctor to seek advice and help, but also to report the bullying.
- Seek out witnesses to the bullying or harassment.
- If you feel physically threatened, speak to the police.
- If you require medical treatment or have income loss as a result of the bullying, lodge an application for workers’ compensation.
- Obtain advice from an employment law solicitor and a personal injuries solicitor.
GC Law can help you with personal injury and employment legal advice. If you have been bullied at work, you need to understand all of your rights. Call us today to discuss your case on 1300 302 318 or get in touch regarding your free claim review.