Case Study: Bullying and Harassment
What is Bullying?
A worker is bullied if:
• A person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards them or a group of workers.
• The behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
What isn’t bullying?
A manager can make decisions about poor performance, take disciplinary action, and direct and control the way work is carried out. Reasonable management action that is carried out in a reasonable way is not bullying.
Mary had been instructed by her supervisor to change a sales code for a sale made by her colleague which would affect his commission payment being reduced. The affected sales rep, Mr. Johnson, later verbally insulted Mary for changing his rep code against the sale as he believed it was he who made the sale. Mary ignored the issue and continued with her work. Later that afternoon, Mr. Johnson again accused Mary of doing the wrong thing, this time verbally abusing her with foul language and in front of other workers making her feel belittled and humiliated.
As a result of Mr. Johnson’s behaviour, Mary lodged a formal letter of complaint to her supervisor detailing the incidents. Mary requested to be relocated away from Mr. Johnson in the office and to have all work orders to be formally written in an email to avoid miscommunications in the future.
The nature of Mr. Johnson’s behaviour is deemed to be of a bullying and harassing nature as it was a repeated an unreasonable way to respond to a fellow workers job performance which can potentially cause risks to Mary’s health and safety in the workplace.
How did the company manage this situation?
The company had a ‘Bullying and Harassment’ policy within the Employee Handbook which they were required to follow.
The first step involved an Investigation whereby the facts of the incident were established. This involved questioning witnesses to the incident and observing company surveillance. Once all possible facts were gathered from the investigation process, an Interview was conducted individually with Mary and Mr. Johnson. This enabled the company to understand how both parties interpreted the incident and the severity of both the actions of Mr. Johnson and the damage to the working relationship he had with Mary.
The facts of the incident, and the severity of Mr. Johnson’s actions had now been identified which resulted in Mary’s complaint being substantiated. The company’s Bullying and Harassment policy outlines that a formal written letter of apology be written by Mr. Johnson to Mary and First and final Warning notice is to be issued to Mr. Johnson.
It is important that such situations are dealt with integrity by upholding the company’s bullying and Harassment policy. Bullying and Harassment grievances need to be solved in a timely manner as such situations can create a hostile and unsafe work environment.
Feel free to call us on (02) 8882 9694 if you would like assistance in setting up your Bullying and Harassment procedure