Bullying usually involves the persistent bad treatment of a person by one or more other people.
Bullying doesn't always involve physical abuse such as punching or kicking. Often bullying involves other nasty behaviour such as verbal abuse, name-calling, nit-picking, threats, sarcasm, exclusion or shunning, or sabotage of a person's work.
These days, bullying is sometimes done through electronic communication systems such as e-mail, texting, social media, online forums, etc.
Some bullying is covered by discrimination laws. Bullying may be a form of less favourable treatment under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (Tas) (the Act) if it is related to one or more of the personal characteristics ('attributes') listed in the Act.
Section 17(1) of the Act says a person must not offend, humiliate, intimidate, insult or ridicle another person on the basis of:
- gender identity
- sexual orientation
- lawful sexual conduct
- family responsibilities
- parental status
- marital status
- relationship status
where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate the other person would be offended, humiliated, intimidated, insulted or ridiculed. This can be a form of bullying; it is against the law.
It is important to note that where harassment/bullying happens but does not relate to attributes covered by discrimination law, it is still a serious problem and may be a breach of
- occupational health and safety laws,
- workers rehabilitation and compensation laws, or
- criminal laws relating to assault, threatening behaviour, etc.
Organisations must provide a safe environment for their employees and for people coming into their workplace.
Section 104 of the Anti-Discrimination Act says organisations must take reasonable steps to ensure no member, officer, employee or agent engages in discrimination or prohibited conduct. Further, it says an organisation that does not comply with this requirement is liable for any breach of the Act committed by any of its members, officers, employees or agents.
See Information for Organisations for more information.
What can you do?
Find out if your organisation:
- has a current discrimination and/or harassment prevention policy that clearly says what bullying is and that it is not okay;
- has internal grievance procedures that can be used to deal with bullying;
- has a Contact Officer you can talk to about possible bullying and to get support and information