Workplace bullying can have a devastating effect on victims, but not many people understand what constitutes bullying, according to lawyer and seconded consultant George Calderon from Discrimination Claims.

“We get a lot of phone calls from workers who think they are being bullied, when in fact, they are just being performance managed by their boss,” he said.

“Bullying has a very specific definition – and it’s different from discrimination and sexual harassment.”

What is bullying

The Fair Work Ombudsman says a worker if bullied if:

  • a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards them or a group of workers
  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety

Unreasonable behaviour includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

“The key words to keep in mind are that the behaviour is repeated, and that it creates a risk to health and safety,” Mr Calderon said.

“So if someone is repeatedly being subjected to aggressive behaviour or they are being repeatedly teased or excluded from work events, and then they are going home and crying and feeling depressed and drinking to cope, then that could constitute a case of workplace bullying.”

Examples of bullying

The Fair Work Ombudsman says examples of bullying include:

  • behaving aggressively
  • teasing or practical jokes
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
  • excluding someone from work-related events or
  • unreasonable work demands.

What is not bullying