Are you being bullied or harassed at work? Know the signs and know your rights.

by Louise Procter

Unfortunately, bullying and harassment are not problems that we leave at our high school graduation. Some of us are unlucky enough for these problems to carry on through into their adult life when we enter the workplace. The reality is that workplace bullying and harassment are both issues that are prevalent in the Australian workforce and so it is important to understand what these issues are and to know your rights are if you fall victim to them.

What is workplace bullying or harassment?


Workplace bullying takes many different forms – the common denominator is the way it makes the victim feel. Bullying is a campaign of abuse by an individual that impacts your health, career and makes you feel differently about the job you once loved. It can even reach a point where you are starting to consider your place in your company, and if you would be potentially better matched elsewhere. Workplace bullying may not be easy to spot – it will not usually take the form of physical violence – and so may go unnoticed by yourself or your colleagues. You are usually the first person to notice workplace bullying.

If you are being bullied in the workplace, the most important thing to remember is that you are not the cause of this. And you are most certainly not alone. Speak to your friends and family and spend time with your loved ones. It’s important to be around people you are close to as this can be an incredibly stressful time.


Harassment, as it’s common understanding, is systematic annoyance and continued threatening actions or demands. Workplace harassment is a special term that differs from its everyday meaning. Usually, workplaces harassment is sexual misconduct and a hostile working environment.

People that bully or harass their employees do not discriminate, and so males and females can be affected by these problems.

What isn’t workplace bullying or harassment?

It’s important to differentiate between workplace bullying or harassment and other practices, which are legal. Whilst some things may seem unfair, employers do have certain practices and procedures in place to deal with employees that aren’t performing as expected, without risk of legal action being taken against them. Your employer is legally allowed to transfer, demote, discipline, performance manage, retrench or sack you, providing they are acting reasonably. If you feel your employer is acting unreasonably if any of these things happen to you, we would recommend you seek legal advice.

What are your rights if you are being bullied or harassed?

The good thing is, we all have a right not to be bullied or harassed at work. Australia has anti-bullying laws and protections in place to help people suffering from bullying or harassment at work. It is safe to say there is lots of support out there. Speak to your direct manager, safety manager or HR team to see if the problem can be solved internally.

If you do not feel like the problem has been resolved internally, you can contact the Fair Work Commission or seek legal advice. The Fair Work Commission is trained to effectively manage these problems from start to finish.


Louise Procter is a writer for Living by the beach, on the sunny South Coast of NSW she enjoys sipping a good strong coffee whilst creating articles that provide information and inspiration to readers to help them in their everyday lives.

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