Related topics

Bullying is harmful behaviour that is directed towards a person or group of people. It is repeated, unreasonable and unwelcome. Bullying can cause either physical or psychological harm.

Bullying within the workplace creates a risk to the health and safety of your workers. While no specific mention is made of bullying in health and safety legislation, all health and safety legislation imposes a general duty on you to protect the health, safety, and welfare of your workers.

Workplace bullying isn’t just confined to the physical workspace. Bullying can also occur online, particularly through email or social media, and at any time of the day or night.

There are two types of bullying that can occur in the workplace - direct and indirect bullying.

Direct bullying is behaviour that is overt and often involves direct steps or conduct to belittle or demean a person or a group of people.

Indirect bullying is behaviour that often involves treatment that excludes or removes benefits from a person or group of people.

A wide range of injuries and illnesses can result from bullying, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, self-harm, eating disorders, and even suicide.


Workplace harassment is prohibited by anti-discrimination legislation in all States and Territories.

A common form of harassment is sexual harassment, which occurs when a person is subjected to any unwanted or uninvited sexual behaviour that is offensive, intimidating or humiliating. Sexual harassment can include the following types of behaviour:

  • unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature;
  • unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favours;
  • unwelcome remarks or statements with sexual connotations;
  • any unwelcome gesture, action or comment of a sexual nature;
  • staring or leering at someone in a sexual manner;
  • unwanted sexual or physical contact, e.g. kissing, inappropriate touching or hugging; intrusive questions about someone’s sexual activity; and
  • repeated invitations of a sexual nature when similar invitations have previously been refused by that person.


Discrimination is treating a person less favourably than another person or group because of their race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or some other attribute or characteristic as specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation.

There are two types of discrimination – direct and indirect.

Direct discrimination is treating a person with a prescribed attribute differently than a person without that attribute.

Indirect discrimination is imposing a requirement, condition or practice on someone that a person with a certain attribute does not or cannot comply with.


Top stories for Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination


Your questions answered: Can we force an employee to have a medical review?

Discrimination in the workplace

Q Can we request an employee to undertake a periodical medical review if such a clause is not stipulated in their current employment contract? Also, what happens if an employee undertakes a medical review and they fail it for some […]

By Portner Press on May 10th, 2019

‘Grow up’ FWC tells company director

Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination

When a company director’s relationship with his co-director wife broke down, a female HR manager in the family business became the victim of his bullying. The employee at Hoad Water Cartage in Adelaide applied to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) […]

By Portner Press on April 26th, 2019

Man who sexually harassed a male colleague loses unfair dismissal claim

Sexual harassment in the workplace

What began as flirtatious texting banter between two male employees took a dark turn when one of the men started asking the other for money.

By Portner Press on April 17th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can we require employees to only speak English?

Discrimination in the workplace

Q We have a number of employees who do not speak English as a first language. The other employees, who do speak English as a first language, get disgruntled when languages other than English are spoken in the lunchroom, and […]

By Portner Press on April 8th, 2019

Your questions answered: What can we do if an employee doesn’t fit into our uniforms?

Discrimination in the workplace

When an employee decides to resign you should take the following steps to ensure the process is handled professionally and legally. 1. Determine if the resignation is valid Just because an employee resigns, it does not necessarily mean the resignation […]

By Portner Press on April 5th, 2019

Your questions answered: How do we asking about physical fitness during recruitment without being discriminatory?

Discrimination in the workplace

Q: Where is the balance between ensuring the physical fitness of the potential employee and discriminating against them?

By Portner Press on March 20th, 2019

Doctor wins $1.5m in political discrimination claim

Discrimination in the workplace

Former Queensland state government minister Dr Chris Davis has won more than $1.45 million in an anti-discrimination claim.

By Portner Press on March 18th, 2019

More action is needed to deal with workplace sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace

  Australia is failing to deal with workplace sexual harassment. Despite health and safety regulators having laws and powers in place to address this systemic problem, there is still very little being done about it. That’s the view of more […]

By Portner Press on March 11th, 2019

Workplace sexual harassment is becoming more prevalent in Australia

Sexual harassment in the workplace

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) survey demonstrates that sexual harassment remains a significant concern for both employees and employers.

By Hannah Pelka-Caven on March 4th, 2019

Your questions answered: How do we set personal presentation standards at work without discriminating?

Discrimination in the workplace

Q: Our staff are the first impression of our business to the general community. What are reasonable standards of presentation in the workplace?

By Portner Press on January 30th, 2019