Workplace bullying and harassment can have a significant impact on an employee’s mental and physical well-being, and in some cases can lead to constructive dismissal. In this blog post, we will discuss a recent case of a General Protections claim that eventuated, where an employee, who was a recent school leaver with limited experience in the workplace, was subjected to a violent joke by their employer, and then physically assaulted during an informal counselling session.
In this case, a recent school leaver with limited experience in the workplace was subjected to a violent joke by their employer, and then physically assaulted during an informal counselling session. The employee, understandably concerned for their safety, reported the incident to both their employer and to Work Safe, but due to the way the matter was handled, they felt compelled to resign from their position.
The employee’s experience highlights the importance of clear processes for dealing with workplace bullying, especially for employees who may not have the knowledge or confidence to take other actions. In this case, the lack of clear processes and support for the employee led to a successful General Protections claim for constructive dismissal.
It is crucial for employers to take all reports of bullying and harassment seriously and to have a clear process in place for dealing with such incidents. This includes providing support and guidance for employees who may be feeling vulnerable or unsure about how to handle the situation.
Additionally, it is important for employers to understand that physical assault, even if it is in the form of a pat on the back, is not acceptable in any workplace. Employers should also be mindful of the power dynamics in the workplace, and to not make violent jokes or use physical force, as it can create a hostile and unsafe work environment.
Overall, this case serves as a reminder for employers to take a proactive approach to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace, and to provide support and resources for employees who may be affected.