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Workplace Bullying and Harassment - What Are My Rights?

Discussion in 'Employment Law Forum' started by BrissyGirl, 3 July 2014.

  1. BrissyGirl

    BrissyGirl Active Member

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    Hi. This week my supervisor came up behind me and hit me so hard on the ass with a container that it left a red welt. He then told me to 'smile'. I was planning on finishing my shift and telling the boss's wife (who was on that night) after the end of shift. Before I had a chance to finish my shift, the supervisor decided to start yelling at me and going off. I walked out.

    I have since informed my boss of what happened. He has basically said my options are:
    1. lay a formal complaint for his harassment and have him fired.
    2. Not lay a complaint, in which case I will be fired due to walking out on shift.

    I've never been in this position before and have no idea what to do. I felt like my supervisor really crossed the line but I'm not sure if what he did was legally that bad with regards to workplace bullying, like against workplace health and safety laws as well as employment law. This guy is also my boss's best friend, so I feel like I'm being put in a really horrible position. Can anybody help?

    Would be so very appreciated.
     
  2. CathL

    CathL Well-Known Member

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    Hi BrissyGirl,
    How big is the company/do you know how many employees it has?
    Is there an HR person who deals with complaints?
    Are you part of a union?
    Has the supervisor ever verbally or physically harassed you previously?

    Its definitely NOT acceptable for your supervisor to hit you. It doesn't matter that he's your boss' best friend - you can lodge a complaint about your supervisor who physically assaulted you at your work.

    Have a look at this Qld Government "Workplace harassment and bullying" page (I assume you're Qld based from your username) which sets out some useful information and that you can report your assault to the police - here's a section of the page:
    If you are harassed
    Sometimes harassment can be a criminal offence. If you have experienced violence, assault, or stalking you should report abuse directly to police.

    If the behaviour you experience is not violence, assault or stalking, you can:

    1. talk to the person
    2. seek support
    3. report the harassment at your workplace
    4. make a harassment complaint outside of your workplace.
     
    Worldly1 likes this.
  3. BrissyGirl

    BrissyGirl Active Member

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    Its a small company with no HR department and I am not part of any union. I am a casual employee and have been there just over 3 years working 25+ hours a week. Because I am a casual employee my boss has basically said that if I do not lodge a formal written complaint I am out of my job with pay from my last nights shift and that's it due to the fact I walked out upset. But if I lodge that complaint I cant see being able to return there anyway due to the fact its the Boss' friend. I just have no idea how to go about handling this situation.
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    What happened is completely unacceptable.

    So much depends on how much you need you job and the personalties involved.

    Can you get someone to help you as a support person? Can you talk to the boss person to person without him getting upset?

    You may have already have made your point about it being unacceptable and if the boss fires you you have grounds for unfair dismissal. May not help you get your job back though.

    Tricky one, and a good mature support person on your side may be able to help.

    It is important to act quickly though as the longer you leave things, the more it is seen as you giving up your rights.
     
  5. BrissyGirl

    BrissyGirl Active Member

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    My boss was very reasonable when I spoke to him yesterday but today he is avoiding my calls. I don't see how I can resolve this without losing my job either way and I don't think anyone can afford to ever be out of a job. My boss said he doesn't have to act on any complaint I make unless its in writing, and a formal complaint will be my word against his. Its a small company and I fee like he has taken away my ability to ever walk back into my job.
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Do not give him a valid excuse to fire you, go back to work. While at work try to resolve issue with the boss. Do you have a mature person you can rely on to help you? Needs to be someone who is level headed and will not get your boss offside.

    Take notes of events and record date/time/location/people present. See if you can work the problem through before going all legal.
     
  7. BrissyGirl

    BrissyGirl Active Member

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    Thank you so much for your advice. I will try to arrange a meeting with my boss tomorrow and see what I can do to resolve it.
     
  8. BrissyGirl

    BrissyGirl Active Member

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    I called my boss today and said I would prefer to handle this in-house and try to resolve it between us. I have since been informed that my supervisor has denied hitting me on the bum. He is absolutely lying. I am now going into a meeting with them next week to try and sort this out. I have no proof he hit me. The cameras do not cover the back office area and we were the only staff on site. Its effectively my word against his and he is a contract staff member and I am casual. When it all comes down to it, with no proof, its going to be a lot easier on my boss if he believes my supervisor and fires me. Can they do that? With only my word, do I have any rights or ability to fight this?
     
  9. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    I can't give legal advice, I'm not a lawyer.

    Can only give general advice.
     
  10. CathL

    CathL Well-Known Member

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    You can contact your local community legal centre or Womens' Legal Services Centre for some legal advice.

    Agree that you could have an unfair dismissal case if your boss fires you after you have raised this issue with him. Have a look at this Legal Aid Qld "Losing your job" page that has information about unfair dismissal and which bodies you can contact for assistance, also look at the Fair Work "Unfair Dismissal" page and the Fair Work Commission "Small Business Fair Dismissal Code" page to arm yourself with more information.

    I agree with Rod that you should write down everything chronologically now so you have a record, and everything that your boss says and that you ay to your boss (with dates and times).
     

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