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Workplace Bullying

Employment Law

Are you dealing with a bullying issue at work and not sure where to begin? Here is a good starting place.

Specific Issues

On-Demand Resources

View on-demand information about specific issues related to workplace bullying allegations in Australia.

Get legal advice for workplace bullying issues from Anderson Legal for a fixed-price initial consultation.

This firm safeguards what matters most and acts purposefully in times of crisis. It acts for employers and employees.

Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Royal Commissions, Fair Work Commission and multiple other courts and tribunals, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.

As a boutique law firm, Anderson Legal is dedicated to providing expert advice and representation in dealing with workplace issues. Although based in Brisbane, this firm advises clients nationally.

Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an experienced lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021)

Andrew Anderson - Lawyer

Workplace Bullying Lawyer

If you have searched for a “workplace bullying lawyer” or an “employment lawyer“, you will see there are many options. Why choose Anderson Legal?

If you seek an experienced lawyer to help you with a workplace bullying issue, Andrew Anderson has a proven track record of successfully guiding his clients through challenging, complex and serious problems.

The areas of law Anderson Legal handles are narrow yet deep. It ensures this firm can handle all cases to the highest standards, no matter the complexity.

Personalised Solutions

Anderson Legal takes the time to understand the circumstances and priorities of each of its clients and tailors solutions accordingly.

Given many people attach their identity to their employment or profession, workplace bullying issues can significantly impact the lives of those affected.

Resolving workplace issues is not always straightforward, as other issues often affect decisions – reputational risks, financial realities, and opportunity costs.

This firm offers tailored strategies to resolve workplace concerns.

Workplace Bullying Lawyer - Anderson Legal

What is workplace bullying?

If you are facing a workplace investigation into bullying allegations, it is essential to understand the definition of ‘bullying’ as defined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). It is the law that applies to most employers and employees in Australia.

The definition of when a worker is bullied at work is found in section 789FD(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). It states:

When is a worker bullied at work?

  1. A worker is bullied at work if:
    1. while the worker is at work in a constitutionally-covered business:
      • an individual; or
      • a group of individuals;
    2. repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and
    3. that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

    The definition of ‘bullying’ in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) has a number of key elements:

    • First, the worker must be “at work in a constitutionally-covered business”. The meaning of ‘constitutionally-covered business’ is explained in section 789FD(3) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Most workers who work for ordinary businesses will be covered by this definition.
    • Second, the bullying must be by an individual or group of individuals.
    • Third, the behaviour alleged to be bullying must be unreasonable.
    • Fourth, the behaviour alleged to be bullying must be repeated.
    • Fifth, the behaviour alleged to be bullying must create a risk to health and safety.

    If any element cannot be established, then the allegation of bullying fails.

    What is reasonable management action?

    The Fair Work 2009 (Cth) specifically excludes ‘reasonable management action’ from what can be workplace bullying:

    When is a worker bullied at work?

    1. To avoid doubt, subsection (1) does not apply to reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

    Reasonable management action may involve performance management and appraisals, changes to working arrangements, investigating complaints and disciplinary action. As may be evident, any of those actions may affect the rights or interests of a worker who may feel, rightly or wrongly, they are being unfairly targeted. It is often in that context a workplace bullying complaint is made against an executive or manager.

    Many people who face bullying complaints in the workplace are managers in one form or another. However described, executives, managers, or small business owners have as part of their role the task of managing the conduct and performance of other workers. It is not uncommon for performance management activity to be characterised as bullying. So, for executives and managers, it is critical to understand that ‘reasonable management action’ is a complete answer to workplace bullying allegations.

    How common is workplace bullying?

    A 2020/21 study (Australian Workplace Barometer Fact Sheet) found that the prevalence of bullying in the workplace was 8.6%, which was down from 9.7% in 2014/15. This was reported to be very high by international standards.

    With respect to bullying and harassment, the 2020/21 study found the behaviours most frequently experienced as bullying behaviours were verbal abuse and humiliation:

    Workplace Bullying and Harassment Statistics

    Bullying in the workplace does occur, in all industries. Complaints of bullying that are false or unfair also happen. It is not always a case of the accuser lying about events. People can wrongly label something as “bullying” when it is in fact “reasonable management action”. The context of an event or action may be misunderstood. However, malicious allegations can and do occur.

    Executives and managers may face false or unfair allegations from their management decisions. Employees may try to cover their poor performance by claiming their manager is a bully. This can make investigations into workplace bullying allegations complex and contested. Obtaining early legal advice can benefit employers, executives, and employees.

    Does bullying differ from harassment?

    While workplace bullying must be based on repeated conduct, workplace harassment can occur from a single incident. People often use the terms ‘bullying’ and ‘harassment’ interchangeably, although harassment is generally a reference to unwanted behaviours that offend, humiliate or intimate a person based on a personal attribute. The most common form of harassment in workplaces is sexual harassment. Behaviour that targets a person based on their personal attributes, such as age, gender, or race, may also constitute discrimination.

    What rights exist for bullied workers?

    A worker who is experiencing bullying at work may have a number of options based on their legal rights. While certain claims can result in compensation or enforceable orders by courts or tribunals, there are alternatives to litigation that can sometimes resolve workplace bullying concerns. An employee who is experiencing bullying may have rights or protections under a number of laws, including:

    • anti-bullying laws
    • unfair dismissal laws
    • general protections laws
    • anti-discrimination laws
    • work health and safety laws

    Workplace bullying constitutes misconduct in the workplace that can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. Workers at all levels can be the subject of bullying at work. For anybody facing a bullying issue in their workplace, it is critical to get informed about your rights, responsibilities, and legal options. Getting early advice from an employment lawyer can assist people to understand their situation and what action may be taken in response.

    Specific Issues: Workplace Bullying

    Show cause letters for bullying

    Show cause letters for bullying

    Workplace bullying can result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. Employers will often issue a show cause letter for bullying allegations, prior to making a decision as part of a disciplinary process.
    Getting informed about the options in responding to a show cause letter concerning bullying allegations is critical for anyone facing such issues.
    Unfair Bullying Allegations

    Unfairly accused of workplace bullying

    If you are a business owner or manager facing a false or unfair bullying allegation at work, you are likely to want to know how to bring out the truth. Getting informed about your options is a good first step.
    Getting informed about your options is prudent for any workplace issue. It is all the more important if the allegations are false, unfair or vexatious.
    Unfair Workplace Investigations

    Unfair workplace investigations

    While fair workplace investigations may help to enforce workplace standards, comply with legal obligations, and minimise legal risks, unfair workplace investigations can do the opposite.
    Employers may face legal action for the harm or damage caused through inadequate or unfair workplace investigations.
    Workplace Investigations

    Workplace investigations into bullying

    If you are dealing with a workplace investigation into bullying, it is crucial to understand how to uphold your rights and advance your interests.
    Free Consultation

    Anderson Legal offers a fixed-priced initial consultation for bullying issues to businesses, executives, and employees.

    Who this firm assists

    Anderson Legal has a focus on resolving workplace problems. It provides advice and legal services to:

    • small business operators
    • executives in medium to large enterprises
    • employees in medium to large enterprises
    • public service employees

    The potential impact of bullying allegations on reputations, relationships, and livelihoods makes it critical to have an employment lawyer who is equal to the task. If you need a workplace bullying lawyer, there are many reasons why Anderson Legal should be your preferred choice:

    • Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an experienced lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021).
    • Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Royal Commissions, Fair Work Commission, and multiple other courts and tribunals, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.
    • Prior to operating a law firm, Andrew Anderson worked as a Principal Crown Prosecutor in Queensland and barrister in practice at 8 Petrie Terrace Chambers. His depth of courtroom experience ranges from straightforward claims right through to complex trials and appeals.
    • Anderson Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to the best ideals of the legal profession. Seeking to exceed client expectations and working for just outcomes is an everyday pursuit.

    Read below how this firm can assist you, what it costs to get advice, and when to contact this firm.

    How this firm can assist

    With respect to workplace bullying issues, this firm assists its clients to navigate all kinds of issues, including:

    • advising on whether certain conduct may be classified as ‘workplace bullying’
    • assisting with workplace investigations related to bullying claims
    • negotiating resolutions with respect to workplace bullying claims
    • outlining the different actions or claims that may be available, such as:
      • anti-bullying law protections
      • unfair dismissal claims
      • general protections claims
      • discrimination claims
      • work health and safety complaints
    • representing clients litigating workplace bullying claims in courts and tribunals

    Note: Anderson Legal does not provide advice or representation for compensation claims under personal injury or workers’ compensation laws.

    What it costs to get advice

    Fixed price initial consultation

    Fixed-Price Consultation
    One-Hour Consultation
    No-Obligation Consultation

    A fixed-price initial consultation is $495 incl. GST for up to one hour, which may be tax deductible (consult your tax advisor).

    If you are dealing with a workplace bullying issue, book an appointment for an initial consultation with Anderson Legal. It is designed to deliver clear and timely advice that allows you to understand the relevant legal issues and make informed choices about the action that may be taken.

    The time is devoted to ensuring an understanding of the particular issues to allow advice to be given based on the information you provide, which may include:

    • The legal framework for workplace bullying:
      • Employer rights and responsibilities
      • Employee rights and responsibilities
      • Is it ‘workplace bullying’ or ‘harassment’?
      • Is it ’reasonable management action’?
    • Examples of workplace bullying outcomes
    • Workplace bullying response options:
      • Internal grievances and complaints
      • Anti-bullying law protections
      • Unfair dismissal claims
      • General protections claims
      • Discrimination claims
      • Work health and safety complaints
    • Specific issues with workplace bullying
      • Workplace investigations
      • Alternative resolution processes
      • Victimisation and reprisal action
      • Public servants accused of bullying
      • Executives accused of bullying

    An initial consultation with Anderson Legal is obligation-free, meaning there is no expectation or commitment to further legal work or costs. If you want to engage this firm to provide you with further advice or legal representation, estimates of costs will be provided as far as possible.

    Initial consultations are by appointment only, with in-person, video, and phone options possible.

    Representation for workplace bullying

    Anderson Legal is transparent about how it charges legal fees.

    This firm generally charges on a capped-fee, fixed-fee, or time-costed basis. How you are charged is something that may be negotiated and your preferences are taken into consideration.

    Please note that Anderson Legal does not undertake legal work on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

    In representing businesses, executives, and employees with workplace bullying issues, Anderson Legal puts in place a formal costs agreement with all clients. This includes a disclosure statement outlining important rights, as well as quotes or estimates for applicable legal fees.

    When to contact this firm

    Employment law issues can have strict timeframes, so it is prudent to seek legal advice as soon as possible for employment law concerns.

    Workplace bullying can involve many legal complexities, which can have profound consequences for reputations, relationships, and livelihoods. It is the reason why it can be critical for business operators, executives and, employees to get urgent legal advice when dealing with such issues.

    If you want legal advice, you should call Anderson Legal to set up an appointment for a fixed-price initial consultation: