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Have you been unfairly accused of bullying at work?

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Unfair Allegations

Employment Law

Are you facing an unfair claim of workplace bullying and need help? Here is a good starting place.


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Call Anderson Legal for a fixed-price initial consultation about your options when dealing with bullying complaints.


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

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Unfair Workplace Bullying Allegations

Disciplinary Processes Australia

Anderson Legal assists executives, managers, and employees facing unfair allegations or complaints of workplace bullying.

There is not one ‘all-purpose’ response to workplace bullying allegations. Each situation is different and every complaint matters.

Unfair Bullying Allegations

Bullying complaints can be unfair

The idea that a bullying complaint could be unfair or unjust is a difficult topic for many people.

The thought that such a serious allegation could be made – and yet be wrong – makes people uncomfortable. For this reason, anybody facing a workplace bullying complaint faces a real disadvantage. Yet, it can be overcome.

Getting informed about your potential options before deciding how to respond to workplace bullying allegations is a good first step. There are a number of ways to learn more about these issues if you are the subject of an allegation, for instance:

  • Learn more about defending allegations of workplace bullying (read on)
  • Get urgent, initial legal advice from an employment lawyer (learn more)
  • Get representation to challenge unfair bullying claims (details below)

Getting expert advice can be crucial to understanding your rights and responsibilities. It may also assist you in exercising your options and defending your interests. Employers may dismiss executives and employees found to have engaged in workplace bullying. Conciliation outcomes from the Fair Work Commission show reinstatement is rare after dismissal:

Whether by agreement through conciliation or following a decision after a contested process, experience shows that it is relatively rare for people to be reinstated after being dismissed from the workplace.

As with any legal issue, there is no substitute for getting professional legal advice as early as possible. However, understandably, before hiring a lawyer, most people want to get better informed about the issues they face.

Why unfair allegations may arise

Workplace bullying does occur. However, complaints of bullying that are false and unfair also happen.

It is not always a case of the accuser lying about events. People can wrongly label something as “bullying”.

The context of an event or action may be misunderstood. Also, the conduct may fairly be characterised as “reasonable management action”. The Fair Work 2009 (Cth) specifically excludes “reasonable management action” from what can called 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 many common, albeit controversial, acts by executives and managers:

  • performance appraisals
  • performance management
  • changes to working arrangements
  • investigating complaints
  • instigating disciplinary processes

Many management actions 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.

Malicious complaints can occur. For example, it is possible for employees to try to cover poor performance by unfairly claiming a manager is a bully – mischaracterising proper scrutiny as bullying.

Response Options

There is no ‘all-purpose’ response to bullying complaints

There are many different approaches a person may take when faced with a workplace bullying complaint. The reasons for this are obvious. Not all allegations are the same and individual circumstances need to be considered.

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can take different forms and the responses may differ depending on what is alleged. A 2020/21 study (Australian Workplace Barometer Fact Sheet) on bullying and harassment found the behaviours most frequently described as bullying are being sworn or yelled at while at work and being humiliated in front of others:

Workplace Bullying and Harassment Statistics

The varied ways a bullying allegation may arise means there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to responding.

Understand your options

When responding to a bullying complaint, there may be a number of options open. However, because the situation may be unfamiliar, involves short timeframes, and is generally highly stressful, people do not always appreciate their options or weigh them in a considered manner.

Four common options when responding to a workplace bullying complaint include:

  • Obtaining advice and guidance;
  • Challenging the process;
  • Challenging the allegations; and,
  • Initiating ‘without prejudice’ negotiations.

There are many different approaches a person may take and there is generally no one ‘right answer’ given different people will have different priorities. In some cases, there may be multiple strands to the response, with each strand having a distinct purpose but combining to operate together.

Often the work of an employment lawyer involves assisting their client to challenge allegations, raise issues about procedural fairness, and sometimes engage in ‘without prejudice’ negotiations to resolve the problem quickly.

Every case is different. So anybody seeking personalised advice about a specific situation should consult a lawyer as soon as possible, as certain options may cease to be available as time passes. Anderson Legal offers a fixed-price, no-obligation initial consultation for people facing workplace bullying claims (learn more).

Important Considerations

Get appropriate support

People facing allegations of workplace bullying are often instructed by their employers to keep the process confidential. It can make the process feel isolating and disempowering.

Isolation and disempowerment can lead people to feel they are simply subject to the process and that the result will be what it will be. This feeling can undermine the opportunity a person has to put their best foot forward.

An experienced lawyer can help you gain a sense of support and authority.

In dealing with workplace bullying complaints, it can be surprising how often employers and managers (even with the benefit of advisers), fail to afford procedural fairness, fail to comply with their own policies and procedures, or fail to take into account relevant information.

The question is: How seriously such flaws are taken by decision-makers? The answer may depend, to some degree, on the authority of the person raising the issue. For this reason, having the support and authority of a lawyer on your side can be critical.

Dr Robert Cialdini identified ‘the principle of authority’ as one of the six key principles of influence in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. It describes the tendency for people to agree or comply with people seen as having authority on a subject. Numerous studies have shown the impact of the ‘principle of authority’ on decision-makers. In the Harvard Business Review, he described the essence of the authority principle in this way:

Two thousand years ago, the Roman poet Virgil offered this simple counsel to those seeking to choose correctly: “Believe an expert.” That may or may not be good advice, but as a description of what people actually do, it can’t be beaten.

So, if you are facing a workplace bullying allegation, particularly one you feel to be false or unfair, getting a lawyer may assist in your voice being heard. However, the true value of a lawyer should run deeper.

The persuasiveness of the response is critical

While knowing the law is fundamental for a lawyer, so is their expertise as an advocate.

Advocacy is all about persuasion.

Persuasion leads thought and action. As such, in dealing with a workplace bullying complaint, persuasiveness is a critical element in any response.

Work can be one of our defining characteristics, or at least an important part of how we perceive ourselves. So if you have been wrongly accused of bullying, it is obvious that it should generally be treated as being of the utmost importance.

Experienced lawyers are able to draw on past cases where similar issues were encountered and whether particular strategies or responses were persuasive. This bank of knowledge can be drawn upon to provide expert guidance for anybody newly facing such a situation.

Anderson Legal provides legal advice to executives and employees facing workplace bullying claims and investigations. Contact this firm for a confidential, fixed-price, and no-obligation initial consultation.

Fixed-Price Consultation

On-Demand Resources

If you are facing a workplace bullying allegation and want legal advice, Anderson Legal offers a fixed-price initial consultation.

An initial consultation with Anderson Legal is:

Fixed-price initial consultation

Fixed-Price Consultation
One-Hour Consultation
Confidential
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 an unfair allegation at work, 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
  • Response options to workplace bullying claims:
    • Challenging the process
    • Challenging the allegations
    • Initiating ‘without prejudice’ negotiations
    • Responding to proposed disciplinary action
    • Litigating workplace bullying complaints
  • Specific issues with workplace bullying
    • Alternative dispute resolution
    • Workplace investigations
    • 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. So 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.

Who this firm assists

Anderson Legal exists to resolve workplace problems. It provides 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. So, 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 in navigating issues of all kinds, 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 relevant, such as:
    • anti-bullying law claims
    • 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 relating to personal injury laws or workers’ compensation laws.

What it costs to get advice

Fixed price initial consultation

Fixed-Price Consultation
One-Hour Consultation
Confidential
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 an unfair allegation at work, 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
  • Response options to workplace bullying claims:
    • Challenging the process
    • Challenging the allegations
    • Initiating ‘without prejudice’ negotiations
    • Responding to proposed disciplinary action
    • Litigating workplace bullying complaints
  • Specific issues with workplace bullying
    • Alternative dispute resolution
    • Workplace investigations
    • 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 challenging workplace bullying claims

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 providing representation for people seeking to challenge complaints of workplace bullying, 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 have strict timeframes. For this reason, it is prudent to seek advice as soon as possible for employment law issues.

Allegations of this nature can involve many legal complexities with potential consequences for reputations, relationships, and livelihoods. For this reason, it can be critical for anyone facing such issues to get urgent legal advice.

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