Am I being bullied?

Sometimes, we can feel uncomfortable with the way other people treat us at work. But are we being bullied? Let’s take a moment to consider the legal definition of workplace bullying.

It occurs when an individual or a group of people engages in bullying behavior in the workplace. Their target may be another individual, or another group of people. To be considered workplace bullying, the behavior must be:

  • unreasonable
  • repeated
  • and it must create a risk to the health and safety of another person, or other people.

Bullying does not include reasonable management action, such as performance management, disciplinary processes, or the allocation of appropriate work. However, such management action must be carried out in a reasonable manner. If it involves some of the negative behaviours listed below, even managerial action may constitute bullying.

Bullying behaviours include:

  • aggressive or intimidating conduct
  • belittling or humiliating comments
  • spreading malicious rumours
  • teasing, practical jokes or initiation ceremonies
  • exclusion from work-related events
  • giving an employee too much or too little work, or work below or beyond an employee’s capability
  • displaying offensive material—for example, sexualised, racist or violent images or text
  • pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.

In summary, to be considered bullying, the behaviour must be repeated and unreasonable and must create a risk to health and safety.


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