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Workplace Bullying Is No April Fool’s Joke

Published 03 Apr 2017

Employers need to ensure that they are treating complaints of bullying seriously and taking a proactive approach towards creating a safe environment for all employees.  This was a costly lesson to learn for P&W Painters Ltd.

The Employment Relations Authority recently found that P&W Painters unjustifiably constructively dismissed one of their painters after she was verbally abused. 

The Painter had asked her Employer not to work with another Employee after he had directed extremely offensive insults and verbal abuse towards her.  The Authority also heard that many other employees were racist and inappropriate towards the Painter, both to her face and behind her back. 

The Employer’s response was that she just had to “accept it” and that was just the way the other employees were.   With no action being taken by her Employer to address the bullying, the Painter was forced to resign. 

The Authority agreed that she had been constructively dismissed from her employment and ordered the company to pay her $12,000 in compensation and $9360 in lost wages and interests.  Legal costs were to be determined.

If an employee complains of bullying or harassment, employers need to ensure that they investigate allegations seriously and take steps to address the concerns.  It is not enough to accept that other employee’s comments and/or behaviour is just part of the work place environment.

For further guidance and a policy please see our eBook on Workplace Bullying & Harassment. For members this is available to download from the Library in the Employers Toolbox, or non members can purchase separately if desired.