People Smartz

Workplace Bullying - A Timely Warning for Businesses

Tony Perkins - Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Many thanks for this story to the HR Coach Network - it is a timely reminder for employers regarding bullying in the workplace and the possible effects of not having the appropriate measures in place.

A recent tragic case has highlighted the need for employers of all sizes to be proactive and vigilant in respect to bullying behaviour within the workplace.

The case involved the death of a 19-year-old cafe employee in Victoria, who committed suicide after more than 12 months of bullying at the hands of her co-workers. It was found that the victim was subject to constant taunting, criticism, name-calling and on at least one occasion had sauce poured over her clothes and hair.

In what is largely being regarded as a turning point for workplace bullying cases, the business was fined $220,000 for failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and failing to adequately train and supervise its employees.

The presiding Magistrate said that the company had “tacitly approved” of the bullying behaviour. One of the company directors was personally convicted and issued a fine of $30,000. In a further landmark decision that has seen the liability for bullying extend beyond businesses to individual employees, three of the victim’s co-workers were convicted and fined a total of $85,000.

Combined with a recent survey indicating that nearly 1 in 5 workers has been subject to bullying, the case highlights the importance of employers and employees alike taking measures to prevent and eliminate bullying in their workplaces.

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