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


Excluding candidates because of a criminal record may be unlawful

Discrimination in the workplace

Discrimination on the basis of a candidate’s criminal record maybe unlawful unless it is based on the inherent requirements of the job.

By Charles Power on January 18th, 2019

Your questions answered: How do we deal with a boss who is a bully?

Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination

  Q I am having trouble finding information about what to do if a boss is the bully in a workplace… I once worked somewhere where the sole director was and continues to be the main source of bullying. What course of […]

By Portner Press on January 11th, 2019

“Unwise” romantic advances weren’t harassment finds FWC

Sexual harassment in the workplace

A Melbourne engineer who claims she was had to resign because her supervisor wanted to “get into her pants” has lost her application for unfair dismissal remedy.

By Portner Press on November 16th, 2018

Strict policy and quick reaction protects employer against claim

Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination

There is a belief employers will usually be held liable for the conduct of its employees when they hurt other employees. But this isn’t always the case.

By Portner Press on October 31st, 2018

Your questions answered: Can an employee returning from parental leave request to become part-time?

Discrimination in the workplace

  Q A full-time employee who is taking parental leave has asked to return to work 3 days per fortnight. He has been employed for more than 15 years and has used most of his long service and annual leave. […]

By Portner Press on October 22nd, 2018

Employer wrongly assumed conspiracy theorist was mentally ill

Discrimination in the workplace

Anti-discrimination legislation protects employees from discrimination on grounds of disability, including mental illness.

By Charles Power on October 19th, 2018

Not-for-profit manager discourages report of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace

A manager for a not-for-profit organisation allegedly told a female worker that if she lodged a sexual harassment complaint, she would be “putting the whole project at risk”.

By Portner Press on October 17th, 2018

Your questions answered: Is a senior manager too senior to be suspended?

Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination

  Q Can you please advise whether it is standard process to stand down a senior manager accused of bullying during the investigation period due to their position of power?   A Each situation depends on its facts. However, it […]

By Portner Press on October 12th, 2018

Your questions answered: How do we help an employee who is suffering with depression and anxiety?

Mental Health

Q: How do we help an employee who is suffering with depression and anxiety?

By Portner Press on September 21st, 2018

5 steps to take when investigating a bullying complaint

Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination

Since the introduction of the anti-bullying scheme under the Fair Work Act, the FWC has been clamping down on employers who neglect to address bullying in their workplace.

By Portner Press on September 19th, 2018