Workplace Bullying and Sexual Harassment

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					 Workplace Bullying and
  Sexual Harassment
Policy, procedures and guidelines for the prevention
      and elimination of workplace bullying and
                  sexual harassment
 Rights and Responsibilities
Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995
• Definition includes both physical and psychological health
  and safety.
• Common Law
   – Employers have a duty of care to their employees
   – Vicarious liability
• Employees must comply with instructions given by the
  employer in regards to workplace health and safety.
  What is workplace bullying?
• Bullying is a form of psychological and/or physical harassment that
  may intimidate, degrade or humiliate another person.

• Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable and less favourable
  behaviour directed toward an employee or group of employees which
  may be considered inappropriate practice.

• Some characteristics of workplace bullying are outlined as follows:
    – Bullying can take many forms – it can be overt or subtle, direct or indirect.

    – Bullying may occur between an employer and employee/s, between
      colleagues or between an employee and another person in the workplace eg
      a student or parent.
           What is harassment?
• Harassment is any behaviour which is not invited or welcomed and
  which often occurs because of a person’s sex, age, race, marital status,
  disability, sexuality, religious beliefs or political persuasion
• Harassment often occurs when power is used inappropriately. It is not
  always intended and acts which may seem trivial or amusing to one
  person may hurt or offend others
• Acts of hatred on the grounds of race, religion, homosexuality or
  HIV/AIDS may constitute vilification contrary to sections 124A and
  131A of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991
How do we identify workplace
  bullying and harassment?
•I was only mucking around!
•I was just trying to make him
 work harder.
•Can’t she take a joke?
•She was asking for it
If you are unsure, ask yourself, does the person’s
behaviour, whether verbal or nonverbal:
•Offend, frustrate, demean, isolate or intimidate?
•Reduce a person’s status, make them feel powerless?
•Reflect on the way you would like to be treated?
Examples of workplace
bullying and harassment
        • Physical-physical contact, assault
        • Verbal-yelling, screaming, offensive
          language, insults
        • Non-verbal-mimicking, making fun of
          attributes, tampering, displaying written or
          pictorial material
        • Professional-isolating, ignoring,
          undermining, denying,overworking, threats
        •   N.B. Just because a person is not objecting out
            loud (to jokes and behaviour) doesn’t mean they
            like it.
Workplace harassment and bullying does not
• Constructive feedback
• Counselling on work performance or work-related
  behaviour that may include critical comments
  indicating performance deficiencies
• Occasional differences of opinion
• Non aggressive conflicts
• Reasonable management action
  Some reasons why bullying
 and harassment might occur?
• Poor people management practices and skills –
• Dubious ‘initiation’ practices.
• Pressures of workplace- tight deadlines.
• Low self esteem, feeling threatened, competition
  for promotion.
• Lack of policy
• Workplace culture – main reason
  bullies exist in an organisation.
      Effects of Bullying and
• Bullying and harassment can have a detrimental impact on both the
  organisation and individual employees.
• Effects on employees can include:
    – Psychological illness eg stress, depression, anxiety
    – Physiological illness such as nausea, headaches and migraines, fatigue.
• Effects on the organisation can include:
    – Increased costs due to absenteeism, staff turnover, workcover premiums,
      law suits, fines, compensation.
    – Negative publicity, difficulty in attracting or retaining quality staff,
• Employees who are concentrating on bullying others, or avoiding
  being bullied are not concentrating on doing their jobs well and are not
  100% productive.
What is Sexual Harassment
“An unwelcome request for sexual favours or other
  unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature”.
• Sexual harassment may be an isolated instance or a series
  of incidents and can effect anyone regardless of gender.
• Sexual Harassment is an abuse of power.
• Sexual Harassment which involves physical harassment
  may be considered to be sexual assault.
• Some types of sexual harassment may be offences under
  criminal law!
            Examples of sexual
•   Personally offensive verbal comments
•   Sexual or smutty jokes
•   Comments about a person’s alleged sexual activities or lifestyle
•   Persistent unwelcome social invitations or phone calls
•   Being followed home from work
•   Stares and leers
•   Offensive hand or body gestures
 Other contexts of bullying
     and harassment
• Harassment or Bullying behaviour of a member of
  staff by a student (Public display or circulation through
  electronic mail of material, including jokes, Physical and/or verbal
  threats and assault)

• Bullying behaviour from parents towards a
  member of staff (Threats, litigation or media exposure as a form
  of intimidation,offensive, insulting and abusive language)
 and Train
    Bullying or Harassment?
• Rachel is a Grade 4 teacher. She has found numerous
  notes left on her desk and in her pigeon hole from Derek,
  another member of staff, asking her out. Rachel has not
  responded and avoids Derek. Last week Rachel received
  frequent text messages and messages on her home
  answering machine from Derek. The messages were
• Mr Lopey is a parent of a Year 6 student. He challenges
  the school secretary demanding to see the principal. The
  principal agrees to meet with Mr Lopey only to be
  bombarded with his shouting, quite open threats and finger
 Bullying or Harassment cont’d
• Amy teaches Yr 11 Biology.      She has been subjected to rude
   gestures, suggestive comments and leers from a group of Yr 11 male
   students. She has also found notes under her windscreen wipers that
   are degrading and suggestive……
• Greg has been teaching for 12 years.      The principal and he often
   clash in staff meetings. His performance in the classroom has attracted
   4 letters of concern from parents and colleagues in the Maths
   department claim he is not pulling his weight. He is approached by the
   principal to begin an unsatisfactory performance process. Greg alleges
   he is being bullied by the principal…..
              What can we do?
         Inform, Convey and Instruct
• Bullying and harassment will not go away unless we do something
  about them. Silence and denial will only reinforce
• Proactive and reactive approaches
• Training and education, Conflict resolution skills (in-service idea)
• Informal and formal options for redress which are confidential, timely
  and objective
• Policies on workplace bullying and ensuring all staff and school
  community are made aware of their content, meaning and implication
• Bullying and harassment contact person (BCEC etc)
• Focusing on improving relationships between staff and wider school
  community by clarifying what is and is not acceptable behaviour (top
  down modelling, culture)
•   Role of the Principal
•   Role of Harassment Contact Officers
•   Role of Area Supervisor
•   Role of Unions
Preventing and Resolving Workplace
     Bullying and Harassment

•   Preventative action
•   Personal resolution-informal
•   Expression of concern
•   Lodge a complaint-formal
Preventing and Resolving Workplace
 Bullying and Harassment Con’t…
• Two approaches
  – Direct approach (personal resolution)
     • Private, informal resolution
     • May seek the support of a harassment contact officer
  – Mediation
     • Meeting between the parties with a view to
       resolving the matter
     • Principal may act as mediator, or an external
       mediator may be used
Preventing and Resolving Workplace
 Bullying and Harassment Con’t…
Expression of Concern
• Staff members who have observed bullying
  may register an expression of concern.
• Support and advice is available from a
  harassment contact officer
• Does not involve a formal complaint
Preventing and Resolving Workplace
 Bullying and Harassment Con’t…
 Lodge a formal complaint
 • A formal complaint can be lodged if
   informal procedures are not suitable.
 • Two tiered process
   – Local level
   – System level
      Resolving complaints at
           Local Level
•   In writing
•   Seek support (harassment contact officer or union representative)
•   Respondent made aware of the complaint before investigation initiated
•   Interview complainant (support person available)
•   Interview respondent (support person available)
•   Negotiate resolution between parties, which may include mediation
•   Signed record of steps taken and outcomes
•   Time frame: 5 working days
Resolving complaints at the
       System Level
• Notification of a complaint
• On receipt of a complaint, investigation initiated
• If not investigated previously (at local level):
 interview the complainant (support person available)
 interview the respondent (support person available)
 where necessary, interview any witnesses named by the complainant or
  the respondent;
 keep a record of the steps taken;
 maintain a written record of interviews;
 provide a written report to the Executive Director.
     Investigation Process
• Establish a transparent process
  – Inform all parties (of process, timeline, principles of
    investigation, support person)
  – Review background information
  – Conduct interviews (complainant, respondents,
  – Investigation report
  – Inform all parties of findings (substantiated or not)
  – Follow up action (disciplinary, counselling, record
              Legal Issues
•   Defamation
•   Natural Justice
•   Victimisation
•   Confidentiality
•   Vexatious claims
•   Record keeping

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