An ex-employee of Flight Centre Ltd who believes he has been victimised and demoted (and who ultimately lost his job) because he raised concerns about bullying in the workplace has recently filed an adverse action claim in the Federal Court. If found guilty, Flight Centre Ltd faces paying compensation for damages – an amount which is uncapped by legislation (unlike unfair dismissal claims which are capped at 6 months’ salary).
This ex-employee raised concerns that another employee was being severely bullied by a store manager and that Flight Centre Ltd failed to take action.
If such bullying did take place, not only could the organisation could face fines for having known about this behaviour and failing to act, the perpetrator of the bullying could also be personally liable and fined.
Although the news article linked to above states there is no law that directly makes workplace bullying illegal:
- Organisations and individuals can be prosecuted under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) because bullying creates an unsafe workplace; and
- Individuals could face fines or jail terms under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) in which the definition of stalking, could also incorporate bullying behaviours.
To avoid employee angst, bad publicity and possible court action, employers must ensure that:
- all staff are regularly trained in understanding what might constitute bullying behaviour and their own personal liabilities and responsibilities;
- all managers are trained in understanding their personal responsibilities and liabilities (which are additional to those applicable to all staff)
- all managers know what is and isn’t appropriate workplace behaviour and are expected to lead by example;
- all managers fully understand employee relations type policies, are trained in complaints handling and encouraged to view all complaints seriously.
For support in delivering relevant training, understanding responsibilities and liabilities in relation to workplace legislation or working to change your organisation’s culture, contact us at Workplace Conflict Resolution, firstname.lastname@example.org.