Q: I was bullied at work... I suffer anxiety and depression now my life has changed. I'm not the person I used to be, I  have been there for 40 years but they still keep bulling me, help! - K.

The situation you describe is really awful and unfortunately it's not one that is uncommon. Bullying in the workplace is common and it is also illegal.

The Fair Work Act for about a year or so has provided workers with a way to stop bullying at work.  'Workers' has a really broad definition in the Act, it covers contractors, sub contractors, out workers, interns, work experience staff, permanent and fixed term contract employees and apprentices.

To be covered by the Act, the following needs to have happened: 

When is a worker bullied at work?

             (1)  A worker is bullied at work if: 

                     (a)  while the worker is at work in a constitutionally-covered business

                              (i)  an individual; or 

                             (ii)  a group of individuals; 

                            repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and 

                     (b)  that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. 

             (2)  To avoid doubt, subsection (1) does not apply to reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner. 

             (3)  If a person conducts a business or undertaking (within the meaning of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 ) and either: 

                     (a)  the person is: 

                              (i)  a constitutional corporation; or 

                             (ii)  the Commonwealth; or 

                            (iii)  a Commonwealth authority; or 

                            (iv)  a body corporate incorporated in a Territory; or 

                     (b)  the business or undertaking is conducted principally in a Territory or Commonwealth place

then the business or undertaking is a constitutionally-covered business .

 So Section (3) of the Act means that not all workplaces are covered by the Fair Work Act and your best bet is to contact the Fair Work Act to check with them. 

If your workplace is covered by the Fair Work Act, then you can make a claim to the Fair Work Commission as soon as possible, if they are satisfied that you have been bullied they will make a legally enforceable order that the bullying stop. The Fair Work Commission can't award money to you but can make orders to prevent the bullying.

There are other legal avenues that are available to you and other aspects of the law that covers how you are treated at work like anti discrimination legislation and occupational health and safety legislation.

You should contact the Fair Work Commission and your local community legal centre as soon as you can.

I wish you the best of luck.


Fair Work Commission

Federation of Community Legal Centres.