For too many years, employees have been coping with workplace abuse without speaking up for their rights. This silent predisposition has been changing in recent years as we begin to understand the types of abuse and the level of harm that can result. Today, we’re highlighting forms of abuse and the options available to you as an Australian employee.
What is Workplace Abuse?
Workplace abuse or bullying is verbal, physical, social and psychological abuse by an employer or any group or individual at work. Workplace abuse can happen to volunteers, work experience students, interns, apprentices, and casual or permanent employees. If you have experienced violence, assault or stalking, report it directly to the police immediately.
Common Forms of Workplace Abuse
Bullying in the workplace can take a number of forms, including:
- Repeated hurtful remarks and discrimination regarding your personality, work ethic, family, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, economic background or education level
- Sexual harassment, such as unwelcome touching or sexually explicit remarks/requests
- Exclusion from taking part in work-related activities
- Psychological harassment, such as mind games or ganging up on you
- Assigning you pointless jobs that have nothing to do with your employment
- Assigning you impossible tasks
- Deliberately changing your schedule to make working difficult
- Physical abuse such as pushing, shoving, tripping or grabbing you
- Attacking or threatening an attack with anything that could be turned into a weapon
- Humiliation through hazing or ridiculous initiation procedures.
Where Does Responsibility Rest in Workplace Abuse?
Your employer has a legal responsibility to ensure that their workplace is safe and free of violence, harassment and bullying. An employer who allows abuse to occur is not meeting their responsibilities.
Bystanders have a moral obligation to create a positive, safe workplace. If you have witnessed unfair treatment, learn the steps your colleague can take and offer your support.
Your Rights and Options
If you feel as though you are being abused, keep a diary where you document everything that has happened and any steps you have taken to attempt to stop the abuse. You may contact a support service, such as your union, or confide in someone at work – there should be a process in place for complaints and resolving disputes. The right person to talk to may be your supervisor, a harassment contact officer or health and safety representative.
If the abuse has not been resolved, you can make a formal complaint to the Queensland Health and Safety authority or lodge an application with the Fair Work Commission. Taking formal steps will ensure your situation is taken seriously and will be resolved permanently.
Seeking Help through Legal Advice
Due to the sheer quantity of various workplace disputes, the best thing you can do is seek legal support as soon as the abuse occurs. An attorney will support your rights, organise any forms and ensure appropriate action is taken.
Acting immediately with a lawyer is vital because these legal disputes take time to resolve. Conflicts rarely disappear so arrange dispute resolution as soon as possible.
If you have been experiencing workplace abuse, don’t hesitate in seeking legal counsel. A Brisbane Injury lawyer will ease the process and support you throughout your claim. Contact us online or call 07 3188 5800.