Bullying and harassment may seem similar but the legal approach to each one is different. Make sure you know how to handle each one.
Harassment is any kind of behaviour that undermines someone’s dignity and is unacceptable or humiliating to them. Unlike bullying, harassment is discriminatory and targets someone because of their age, gender, race, disability or ethnicity; it may be repeated or once only.
Sexual harassment is where there is unwanted and unwelcome attention of a sexual nature. This may be physical or verbal. It includes indecent assault, deliberate physical contact, or the display of pornographic material. It also includes offensive language, provocative suggestions, or unwelcome phone calls or emails. It is up to the victim whether they experience it as sexual harassment.
Racial harassment is any behaviour, whether deliberate or not, based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin. This may be physical or verbal. It includes verbal abuse, ridicule and exclusion from normal work events. It also includes physical attack, racist graffiti or inciting others to harassing activities. Once again, the victim decides what racial harassment is for them.
You need to have a clear policy to protect your employees from any type of bullying or harassment at work. It should set out how employees can have their complaints resolved and ideally, how to stop the employment relationship from breaking down.
Anti-discrimination laws, health and safety laws, and bullying laws are all different, so you need to be informed.
Employsure advisers are experts in helping you manage the differences between bullying and harassment in the workplace. For peace of mind, please call our 24 hour Advice Line now on 1300 651 415.