Under discrimination law, it is unlawful to deal with a person less positively on the basis of particular safeguarded attributes such as a person’s sex, race, impairment or age. Treating an individual less favourably can consist of harassing or bullying an individual. The law likewise has specific provisions connecting unwanted sexual advances, racial hatred and impairment harassment.
Harassment can include behaviour such as:
- telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups
- sending out specific or sexually suggestive emails or text
- displaying racially offending or pornographic posters or screensavers
- making bad remarks or taunts about an individual’s disability, or
- asking intrusive questions about somebody’s personal life, including his or her sex life.
It is essential to understand that a one-off incident can make up harassment.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 restricts harassment in the work environment by companies, co-workers and other “workplace individuals”, such as partners, commission agents and agreement employees. Sexual harassment is broadly defined as unwelcome sexual conduct that a reasonable person would prepare for would upset, humiliate or daunt the individual pestered.
The Special Needs Discrimination Act 1992 restricts harassment in the office based on or connected to an individual’s disability or the impairment of a partner.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 forbids offending behaviour based upon racial hatred. Racial hatred is defined as something performed in public that offends, insults or humiliates an individual or group of individuals because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.
All events of harassment– no matter how big or small or who is involved– require employers or supervisors to react quickly and properly. If concerns are left unaddressed, a hostile working environment can develop which can expose employers to additional problems.
What is workplace bullying?
The Fair Work Modification Act 2013 defines work environment bullying as repeated unreasonable behaviour by a private towards an employee which produces a danger to health and safety.
Bullying behaviour can range from apparent spoken or physical assault to subtle psychological abuse. It can include:
- physical or verbal abuse.
- yelling, screaming or offensive language.
- excluding or isolating employees.
- psychological harassment.
- appointing worthless tasks unrelated to the task.
- providing staff members with difficult tasks.
- deliberately altered work lineups to hassle particular staff members.
- weakening work efficiency by intentionally keeping info vital for efficient work efficiency.