Workplace Bullying. Is It Or Isn’t It?

Do you know what workplace bullying looks like?

Could you easily define it as behaviour x?

Or, does it depend on the workplace, and who is involved?

Consider for a minute the two clips below, from the Channel 10 program Studio 10, with both featuring Sarah Harris and Joe Hildebrand.

Clip #1, titled Joe Gets Creamed shows Joe having an ice cream shoved in his face a number of times by Sarah.

Clip #2, titled Joe’s Splash Of Water shows Joe getting water squirted in his face by Sarah

Is It Workplace Bullying?

The Fair Work Commission defines workplace bullying as:

a person or a group of people repeatedly behaving unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers at work
AND
the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Bullying does not include reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

  • Is it repeated behaviour?
    Yes as something happened twice.
  • Is the behaviour unreasonable?
    Now that would depend on whether Joe’s role is to be the butt of the jokes that may happen. Though for arguments sake, let’s say that he isn’t, and that his role is as a male co-host of the program. With this in mind, I would say that the behaviour is unreasonable.
  • Is the behaviour a risk to health and safety?
    This is where things get interesting and confusing. I would say that yes, having an ice cream shoved in your face a number of times, and having water squirted into your face DO present a risk to Joe’s health and safety. Therefore, the answer would be yes.

Based on that, you could say that what Sarah is doing to Joe IS workplace bullying.

Who Should Be The One To Tell The Bully To Stop?

Unfortunately for Joe, if he isn’t able to make a complaint and others don’t think that Sarah is bullying him, there isn’t much that can be done.

Which leads us to asking the question of who should be the one to tell the bully to stop?

Should it be the one who is being bullied, or should it be the colleagues of the bully?

In a perfect world, the colleagues of the bully would point out to them how their behaviour is unacceptable and they would stop it.

Except for the most part, we don’t live in a perfect world.

This is why it is up to all of us to say something about workplace bullying.

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