Advice on Workplace Bullying in New Zealand
From verbal confrontations to physical abuse, many times incidents go unnoticed or unreported due to confusion around this issue. So what exactly constitutes Workplace Bullying in New Zealand?
Definitions of Workplace Bullying
1. Worksafe NZ
Worksafe NZ, workplace bullying is “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.”
This is a surprising definition because it does not require the “victim” to prove that the “bully” intended to bully them. It is surprising because for the last ten years, employment case law has required the victim to prove that the bully “intended to cause fear and distress”.
2. Employment Relations Authority
During a 2005 case in the Employment Relations Authority (Evans v Gen-i Limited) held that bullying is:
“Behaviours that are repeated and carried out with a desire to exert dominance and an intention to cause fear and distress. The behaviours usually include elements of personal denigration and disdain of the person subject to it. It is intended to control the behaviour or actions of its target in particular ways.”
How Can Workplace Law Help?
I have witnessed a number of investigations where a victim’s claims have failed, despite a list of witnessed events, because the “bully” has denied any intent to cause fear and distress.
If the case law follows the Guidelines (as I expect it to do, over time) this will make it easier for victims to establish that they have been bullied.
For Employees: I can meet with you for an hour or two to ascertain the facts, to assess the strength of your case and to advise you on your options and the cost, process and likely outcome of those options. There is a charge for this advice but it will be money well spent if you have a sound assessment of the strength of your position and a clear forward strategy.
For Employers: I can represent the employer as it responds to a bullying allegation, or the employer can appoint me as an independent investigator. As an investigator I will promptly and discreetly carry out interviews. I will promptly issue a concise report containing clear conclusions and my reasoning. I will provide excellent value for money.
For Legal and Strategic Advice on Workplace Bullying Pick Up The Phone and Talk to Workplace Law
I can offer free initial advice during the day, and after hours, to help you make sense of your situation.
027 270 1057 firstname.lastname@example.org
Further Reading & Downloads
I presented a paper on workplace bullying to the New Zealand Law Society Employment Law Conference in 2004.
Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying is an easy-to-read document that provides step-by-step practical guidelines around workplace bullying.