Workplace bullying statistics 2021 show two-thirds of Australians suffered from bullying behaviour at work. Researchers at the University of South Australia told SmartCompany(1) that bullying is costly for companies and while only 10 percent of workers self-identified as victims of workplace bullying, the number was probably much higher.  

Anyone who has been bullied in the workplace can attest to the pain, embarrassment, frustration and mental anguish it can cause employees and even employers. The bullies can be coworkers, bosses, supervisors, clients, customers or suppliers.  

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying happens when a person or a group of people engage in a persistent pattern of maltreatment from others in the workplace and that behaviour causes physical or emotional damage. Workplace bullying can include verbal and nonverbal tactics, humiliation, psychological and physical abuse and other unwelcome conduct. 

Fair Work Australia (2)reports that the victims of bullying at work can be just about anyone in the workplace, whether the victim is self-employed, a tradie or a professional. No matter who is bullied, a hostile work environment is very bad for business and workplace health and it is a breach of the Fair Work Act.

Anti-Discrimination Breaches

Workplace complaints often involve breaches of anti-discrimination laws, including sexually explict comments, an unwelcome sexual advance, and racial hatred. Psychological harassment, intimidation and threats also constitute bullying. 

Workplace bullies often say humiliating or inappropriate things, and workers often complain of experiencing workplace bullying by co workers, and those in positions of authority. However, managers and supervisors may be bullied by workers lower on the ladder.

Workplace Bullying in Australia

According to HeadsUp(1), workplace bullying hurts an entire organisation, not just one victim. Bullying can cause increased absenteeism, lost productivity, poor worker morale, and lost time spent processing claims. Statistics by Heads Up estimates the cost to Australian companies and organisations of $6 billion to $36 billion each year due to bullying in the workplace.

Bullying in the workplace happens in NSW and all other states of Australia and is especially hard to manage – unlike school bullies – workplace aggressors often operate inside a company’s established anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. 

So, What is Considered Bullying at Work? 

The type of behaviour deemed bullying in the workplace includes:  

  • Aggression
  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Comments that belittle
  • Saying humiliating or inappropriate things
  • Practical jokes and teasing 
  • Excluding someone from work-related events
  • Spreading gossip, inaccurate, malicious rumours, rude and/or false rumours
  • Work expectations that are unreasonable

Employees also may face bullying in the form of discrimination or harassment in the workplace due to sexual preference or orientation, their gender, disability, ethnicity, race or religion, martial status or age. If this is you, a lawsuit may help you solve the problem so you keep your job, and/or provide compensation. 

What is NOT Workplace Bullying?

Bullying behaviours are not acceptable in the workplace. But reasonable management action carried out to increase production or activities that are acceptable and not considered bullying if carried out reasonably, may include:

  • Disciplinary action (carried out reasonably)
  • Feedback on an unsatisfactory work performance 
  • Controlling or directing how work is carried out

If you’re in any doubt about what is appropriate non-bullying behaviour, it’s always best to seek legal advice from the experts at PK Simpson.

How to deal with workplace bullying

Document Everything

Keep a record of what happens in your workplace if you are subjected to bullying. Write down details of the bullying incidents, name/s of the bully or bullies, the date and time the incident/s occur. 

Record as much detail as possible including the names and addresses of anyone who witnesses the bullying. Keep copies of relevant documents if you can, and remember diaries or journals can be used as evidence in courts.

Get Help and Advice

Seek out advice and information from government agencies in your state or territory but be aware that they cannot give you legal advice. Employees should get legal advice from our qualified lawyers at PK Simpson for answers about their employer’s legal obligations under their states Occupational Health and Safety laws:

  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)(4)
  • NSW Office of Industrial Relations(5)
  • New South Wales Anti Discrimination Board(6)
  • SafeWork, icare or SIRA(7)

Make a Complaint

If you are subjected to bullying at work, it might help to talk to your supervisor, or a trustworthy work health and safety representative or human resources department to report bullying incidents. 

Discuss  the workplace bullying behaviour, or begin the resolution process by making a  formal or informal complaint. It is often best to try to resolve the matter and stop the bullying incidents through your employer if possible before taking legal action.

Speak to the Bully

If you feel able, and only after receiving advice, speak to the bully about their behaviour.  You might prefer to do it during a mediation hearing or without going to those lengths, depending on whether or not you have made a formal complaint. Workplace bullies are sometimes unaware of their behaviour’s impact, so you can ask that they stop their bullying behaviours. 

Take Legal Action

If workplace bullying persists, even after you have asked the bully to stop it, and the issue is not dealt with via organisational means, it’s time to call PK Simpson personal injury experts. you’re being bullied at work then legal options may be considered. If the bullying continues and your employer cannot or does not help, you can consult a lawyer. 

Unfair Dismissal

If you make a complaint about bullying in the workplace and lose your job as a result, or if you felt you had to resign due to the complaint, you may be eligible to make a claim under the provisions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996(8). You can seek legal advice from our lawyers at PK Simpson to help you through the process.

Speak to Our Workplace Bullying and Harassment Lawyers

If you’re experiencing workplace bullying, speak to our experienced team of personal injury and workplace lawyers At PK Simpson. We can help you stop the bullying, advise you, and pursue legal action and to claim compensation if necessary. 

Here at PK Simpson, we strive to deliver the guidance and legal advice you need.  Contact us today on 1300 757 467 or fill out the convenient online form and we’ll get back to you.


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