Types of Workplace Harassment and Victimisation
Types of Workplace harassment and in turn victimisation can take many forms and can ruin a great job, turning a workplace environment toxic and unproductive. Harassment is conduct that is severe and pervasive enough that a reasonable person would consider the workplace intimidating, hostile or abusive. It can include acts of assault, intimidation and ridicule.
In the context of employment, harassment can be categorised as physical or emotional harassment. These forms of harassment are protected and governed under anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws. Harassment is against the law when it falls under the definition of bullying or when a person is treated less favourably on the basis of certain personal characteristics, constituting discrimination. If you want to fight for your job and discuss options for combating workplace harassment, we can help!
Workplace Harassment – Emotional Harassment
Physical harassment refers to physical abuse such as sexual assault or violence on the body while emotional abuse refers to imposing stress and bullying. These forms of harassment overlap with bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination.
Emotional harassment is often unnoticeable and gets less attention in the workplace than physical harassment. Emotional harassment can be defined as hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors that are not explicitly tied to sexual or discriminatory tendencies, yet they are directed at manipulating and degrading an employee. The most common form of emotional harassment in the workplace is bullying.
Emotional Harassment – Bullying
Are you experiencing bullying in the workplace and want it to stop so you can keep your job? Workplace bullying occurs when an individual or a group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker. Or a group of workers of which the worker is a member, at work and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
In Amie Mac v Bank of Queensland Limited and Others. The Fair work Commission indicated that some of the features which might be expected to be found in a course of repeated unreasonable behaviour constituting bullying at work were “intimidation, coercion, threats, humiliation, shouting, sarcasm, victimisation, terrorizing, singling-out, malicious pranks, physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, belittling, bad faith, harassment, conspiracy to harm, ganging-up, isolation, freezing-out, ostracism, innuendo, rumor-mongering, disrespect, mobbing, mocking, victim-blaming and discrimination”.
In regards to establishing a risk to health and safety for the test of workplace bullying. Proof of actual harm to health and safety is not necessary provided that a risk to health and safety created by bullying behaviour is demonstrated. Thus, the bullying behaviour must create the risk to health and safety through a casual link.
Conduct that is reasonable
However, conduct that is reasonable management action will not constitute bullying. Thus, the employee will need to demonstrate that the action is not reasonable management action that is conducted in a reasonable manner. The question of whether the management action was carried out in a reasonable manner is a question of fact and the test is an objective one.
It considers what action is taken. The facts and circumstances giving rise to the requirement for action. The way in which the action impacts upon the worker and the circumstances in which the action was implemented and any other relevant matters.
Emotional Harassment – Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
Workplace harassment in the context of discrimination and sexual harassment can be against the law when a person is treated less favorably on the basis of certain personal characteristics, such as race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, breastfeeding, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. These are protected attributes and harassment on this basis constitutes discrimination.
Discrimination and sexual harassment are generally forms of emotional harassment. Once an employee begins physically intimidating a fellow employee through sexual assault or acts of violence on the body, this falls under physical harassment (as discussed below) and may become a criminal matter.
Harassment in the context of discrimination can include behaviour such as:
- telling insulting jokes about particular groups that possess these protected attributes
- displaying content, such as posters, which is offensive content to groups that possess these protected attributes
- making derogatory comments or taunts about someone protected attribute
Sexual harassment constitutes sex discrimination (Birch v Wesco Electrics (1966) Pty Ltd (2012) 218 IR 67 ; Aldridge v Booth (1988) ALR 1 -), as the employee has been treated less favorably than colleagues of the opposite sex in being sexually harassed.
This is a broad term, including many types of unwelcome verbal and physical sexual attention. Sexual assault specifically refers to sexual contact or behaviour, often physical, that occurs without the consent of the victim. Sexual harassment generally violates civil anti-discrimination laws. You have a right to work or learn without being harassed.—In many cases is not a criminal act, while sexual assault usually refers to acts that are criminal. Harassment in the context of sexual harassment and sex discrimination can include behaviour such as:
- sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails or text messages
- displaying pornographic posters or screen savers
- asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including his or her sex life.
- unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing;
- staring or leering;
- sexually suggestive comments or jokes;
- unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sex;
- behaviour which would also be an offence under the criminal law. Such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.
A one-off incident can constitute harassment. (bullying must be repeated). All incidents of harassment require employers or managers to respond quickly and appropriately. If you want to discuss the harassment you have been subjected to and what you can do about it,
Workplace Harassment – Physical Harassment
Physical harassment in the workplace takes many forms, such as workplace violence and sexual assault. Workplace violence is defined as physical threats and assaults targeted at employees, which includes:
- physical assault such as biting, scratching, hitting, kicking, pushing, grabbing,
- throwing objects
- intentionally coughing or spitting on someone
- harassment or aggressive behaviour that creates a fear of violence, such as stalking, , verbal threats and abuse, yelling and swearing
- hazing or initiation practices for new or young workers, and
- violence from a family or domestic relationship when this occurs at the workplace. Including if the person’s workplace is their home.
Sexual assault and workplace violence
Aforementioned, sexual assault specifically refers to sexual contact or behaviour. Often physical, that occurs without the consent of the victim and may constitute criminal behaviour. Some forms of sexual assault include:
- Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape
- Attempted rape
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetration of the perpetrator’s body
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching.
If an employee has been subject to workplace violence or sexual assault, they are encouraged to report this to their employer but are not precluded from reporting this to the police also. If an employee has been subjected to emotional harassment in the form of bullying or general sexual harassment and discrimination, they may lodge a complaint in the context of their employment and under civil laws, as discussed below. (workers compensation may be an option).
Making a Complaint about Bullying
If you feel that you have been bullied in your workplace, there are a number of things you can do. Firstly, you can tell the employee who is bullying you to stop and that you are uncomfortable. Sometimes, this is enough to make the harassment stop and for the employee to realise their actions are creating a threat to your health and safety.
If you have told the employee to stop, but the behaviour continues, report the behaviour to Company management. Complaining to the boss may seem daunting and you may be in fear of adverse action. However most employers will be willing to help and rectify the situation once they are aware. If an employee is uncomfortable by bullying and harassment conduct of other employees or their superiors, they have the right to speak up and put an end to the bullying.
Should this fail and the Company has not taken any steps to address or rectify the bullying behaviour. The employee can seek assistance by lodging a claim to an external body such as the Fair Work Commission and fight for their rights. If an employee is still employed by an employer and wishes to make an application in regards to workplace bullying, the employee can lodge a Form F72 – Application for an order to stop bullying. This application seeks a preventative remedy, not remedial, punitive or compensatory. If appropriate, the Fair Work Commission will schedule a mediation session for the parties involved to try to help them resolve the case.
Benefits of mediation (sorting it out)
One of the benefits of mediation is that the outcomes that can be reached can be tailored, depending on the parties’ situation. This means that the parties can seek to resolve a case in any way they consider will assist them to resume a constructive and cooperative relationship. If there is no agreement the case will progress to a formal conference or hearing before a Commission Member. This will enable the application to be determined and a binding decision or order be made.
A binding decision or order will require a worker/s or the employer to stop the bullying behaviour. The worker/s may be ordered to comply with the employer policies. To be separated, transferred, have rosters changed. For the employer or principal to monitor the behaviour or their work participants. For training or counselling to be offered to the worker and to be taken up by the worker. The employer may be ordered to review and improve their bullying policies and complaint handling policies or for behaviour to cease outside of work.
If you want to fight for your job and stop the bullying, we can help! Please call us on 1800 333 666 and we can assist you in fighting back against your employer.
Victimisation at Work: Understanding and Addressing Employee Perspectives
In today’s professional landscape, workplace dynamics play a crucial role in employee well-being and job satisfaction. Unfortunately, victimisation at work is an issue that continues to affect employees, leading to significant emotional distress and negative impacts on their professional lives.
The topic of victimisation at work is of utmost importance in today’s professional landscape. Understanding and addressing employee perspectives on this issue is crucial for creating safe and healthy work environments where individuals can thrive. By recognizing and addressing victimisation, organizations can foster a culture of respect, fairness, and inclusivity, ultimately benefiting both employees and the overall success of the organization. It is imperative to prioritize the well-being and rights of employees, ensuring that they are protected from unfair treatment, retaliation, and discrimination. By addressing victimization, we can strive towards workplaces where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential.
Defining Victimisation at Work
Victimisation at work refers to unfair treatment or retaliation against an employee who has asserted their rights, reported wrongdoing, or raised concerns about unethical practices within the workplace. It can manifest in various forms, such as isolation, exclusion from decision-making processes, unwarranted criticism, unjustified disciplinary action, or even threats to job security.(dismissal).
All this takes a toll on an employee’s emotional well-being. The constant stress, anxiety, and fear that accompany such treatment can significantly affect their self-esteem, motivation, and overall job satisfaction. Employees subjected to victimization may experience heightened levels of depression, anxiety, and even physical health issues.
- Whistleblowing and Reporting Wrongdoing: Employees who raise concerns about unethical or illegal practices within the organization are often vulnerable to victimisation. Fear of retaliation can discourage individuals from coming forward, perpetuating a culture of silence and allowing misconduct to persist.
- Personality Conflicts and Workplace Bullying: Differences in personalities, conflicting work styles, or personal conflicts between colleagues or superiors can lead to victimisation. Workplace bullying, characterized by consistent and targeted mistreatment, can also create a hostile work environment.
- Discrimination and Retaliation: Employees who assert their rights or challenge discriminatory practices may become targets of victimisation. This includes instances where individuals face adverse treatment due to their gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or disability. Retaliation for filing complaints or participating in investigations is also a significant concern.
Importance of addressing Victimisation
Addressing victimization at work is crucial for fostering a healthy and inclusive work environment. By taking proactive measures to prevent and address victimisation, organizations can improve employee morale, job satisfaction, and overall productivity. Furthermore, addressing victimisation sends a clear message that such behavior is not tolerated and promotes a culture of fairness and respect.
Establish Clear Policies and Procedures: Organizations should have well-defined policies and procedures in place that explicitly address victimization at work. These policies should outline the consequences for engaging in victimisation and provide clear avenues for reporting and seeking redress.
Encourage Reporting and Confidentiality: Creating a safe reporting environment is essential for employees who have experienced victimisation. Encourage employees to come forward with their concerns, and ensure confidentiality is maintained throughout the investigation process to protect individuals from further harm.
Conduct Thorough Investigations: When allegations of victimisation arise, it is crucial for organizations to conduct prompt and impartial investigations. Assign trained investigators who can gather evidence, interview relevant parties, and reach fair and unbiased conclusions.
Provide Support and Counseling: Victims of workplace victimization may require emotional support and counseling. Organizations should offer access to resources such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, or support groups to help individuals cope with the emotional toll.
Promote Training and Awareness: Regular training sessions on topics such as workplace ethics, diversity and inclusion, and conflict resolution can help employees understand and identify victimization behaviors. By promoting awareness, organizations can foster a culture of respect and prevent victimisation from occurring
Retaliation and Ostracism in a Whistleblowing Incident
John, an employee at a financial institution, discovered evidence of fraudulent activities within the company. Driven by his commitment to ethical standards, John decided to blow the whistle and report the misconduct to senior management. However, instead of being appreciated for his courage, John became a target of retaliation.
Colleagues and supervisors began excluding John from meetings, social gatherings, and important projects. He was subjected to constant criticism, unwarranted performance evaluations, and even threats to his job security. Despite his attempts to address the issue internally, the victimization continued.
Realizing the urgency of the situation, John sought legal advice and filed a formal complaint against the company for victimization. During the legal proceedings, extensive evidence of retaliation was presented, including emails, witness testimonies, and performance records. The court ruled in John’s favor, acknowledging the company’s violation of whistleblower protection laws. As a result, John was awarded substantial compensation for emotional distress and lost career opportunities. This case highlights the harsh reality of victimization faced by whistleblowers. It emphasizes the need for organizations to have robust whistleblower protection policies and a culture that supports employees who come forward with ethical concerns.
Discrimination and Exclusion based on Identity
Sarah, an accomplished marketing professional, joined a new company excitedly. However, her enthusiasm quickly waned as she experienced victimisation based on her gender. She noticed that male colleagues received preferential treatment in terms of project assignments, promotions, and decision-making processes.
Sarah’s concerns fell on deaf ears when she raised them with her superiors, who dismissed her complaints as baseless. As a result, Sarah felt excluded, undervalued, and demotivated in her workplace. Determined to seek justice, she decided to pursue legal action for victimisation.
With the support of an employment lawyer, Sarah meticulously gathered evidence, including performance evaluations, email correspondence, and witness statements, to demonstrate the pattern of discriminatory treatment. The case attracted media attention and brought the issue of workplace gender discrimination to the forefront.
During the trial, the court recognized the existence of systemic discrimination within the company and ruled in Sarah’s favor. The company was ordered to pay significant compensation to Sarah and implement comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives to address the issue.
This case emphasizes the importance of creating inclusive work environments free from discrimination. It serves as a reminder to employers that victimisation based on gender or any other protected characteristic is not only morally wrong but also a violation of equal employment opportunity laws.
Bullying and Intimidation by a Supervisor
Mark, a dedicated employee at a manufacturing company, experienced ongoing victimization from his supervisor, who engaged in bullying and intimidation tactics. The supervisor consistently undermined Mark’s work, publicly humiliated him, and assigned him excessive and impossible tasks to set him up for failure. Feeling helpless and emotionally drained, Mark approached the HR department and senior management to report the abusive behavior. However, his complaints were met with indifference and minimal action, further exacerbating the victimization.
Recognizing the need for external intervention, Mark sought legal representation to address the issue. His lawyer guided him through the process of documenting incidents, gathering evidence, and filing a formal complaint against the company for allowing a hostile work environment to persist.
During the legal proceedings, Mark’s legal team presented witness testimonies, medical records documenting the impact on Mark’s health, and a record of his attempts to seek internal resolution. The court ruled in Mark’s favor, holding the company accountable for their failure to address the supervisor’s abusive conduct. Mark was awarded compensation for the emotional distress caused by the victimization.
This case highlights the detrimental effects of workplace bullying and the responsibility of employers to address such behavior promptly and effectively. It emphasizes the significance of taking victims’ complaints seriously and implementing anti-bullying measures to protect employees from abusive supervisors.
Conclusion: to Types of Workplace Harassment
Victimization at work is a serious issue that negatively impacts employees’ well-being and overall work experience. By recognizing the issues, causes, and steps to address victimization, everybody can cultivate a supportive and inclusive work environment. This is where employees feel valued, respected, and protected. Embracing proactive measures to prevent and address victimization is not only morally imperative but also beneficial for everybodies success in the long run.
Remember, addressing victimization requires the collective effort of employers, employees, and policymakers. Together, we can strive towards workplaces that are free from victimization and promote a culture of fairness, respect, and mutual growth.
Making a Complaint about Discrimination and Sexual Harassment
If you feel that you have been discriminated against. Sexually harassed in your workplace, there are a number of things you can do. Firstly, you can tell the employee who is discriminating against you or sexually harassing you to stop. Sometimes, this is enough to make the harassment stop and for the employee to realize their actions are unwelcome.
If you have told the employee to stop, but the behaviour continues, report the behaviour to Company management. If the Company fails to address the discrimination and sexual harassment, the employee can escalate their complaint to an appropriate body. In the Fair Work Commission, the employee can lodge a number of claims, depending on their circumstances.
If an employee is still employed and has complained about the discrimination or sexual harassment to no avail, the employee can lodge an F8C Application.
The employee will need to demonstrate that the employer has subjected an employee to a form of adverse action (not termination). further they believe this action was done because they have exercised a workplace right by complaining about sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Adverse actions can include as prejudicing the employee or injuring the employee in his or her employment. The employee can argue that the Company’s inaction constitutes adverse action as they are refusing or failing to remedy and address the complaint.
Once a complaint is lodged, the Fair work Commission will only hold a private conference to deal with the dispute if both parties agree to attend. If one of the parties to a non-dismissal dispute does not agree to participate in a conference, or if the dispute remains unresolved after the conference, the employee can choose to make an application to the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit Court to deal with the matter.
During a conference, a Commission Member will work with those involved to reach an agreed resolution to the dispute. The Commission Member may make a recommendation or express an opinion during the conference, but cannot make a binding final decision or an order.
Remedies and compensation
The employee can seek specific remedies as to what they would like to occur in order to resume a constructive and cooperative employment relationship. If the employee believes the relationship is beyond repair. Further they no longer want to be employed, the employee can see an exit package, by way of resignation, to terminate the employment relationship. Providing the employee can demonstrate pain and suffering as a result of the harassment suffered. The employee may seek compensation in the form of general damages. If you want assistant or guidance in lodging your application against your employer,
If an employer has terminated an employee and they believe this action was done because they have complained about discrimination or sexual harassment. Or because they possess a protected attribute, the employee has 21 calendar days after the termination took effect, to lodge an application in the Fair work Commission. Once an application is lodged, the Fair Work Commission will set the matter down for a conciliation conference. The same procedure is followed as in non-dismissal disputes.
If you want assistant or guidance in lodging your application against your employer. Please give us a call on 1800 333 666 for a free and confidential consultation. We are in your corner, none should suffer in silence, stand up for yourself, your family, the community.
Conclusion to: Types of Workplace Harassment
This article has covered alot of ground. I hope it has been of some benefit to you. We are A Whole New Approach P/l, we are not lawyers, nor do we want to be. We are noted as the nations leading workplace advisors and commentators. Any issues with unfair dismissals, general protections, in fact anything to do with the workplace, give us a call. abandonment of employment, forced to resign, adverse action, we do it all.
Please give us a call on 1800 333 666 for a free and confidential consultation.