Employers must wake up to the fact that workplace bullying is becoming one of the Australia’s major social issues and could be adversely affecting the health of thousands of employees.
Trilby Misso managing lawyer Robyn Davies said: “This is double the number of enquiries we were getting a year ago and bullying is now among the most common complaints we receive from workers seeking compensation.”
“But we believe that these numbers represent only the tip of the iceberg. People who phone us are usually at their wits end, having tried to improve the situation over a period of months or even years.”
Davies added that the case of teenage waitress Brodie Panlock earlier this year, who committed suicide in Melbourne after sustained bullying by colleagues, was a stark reminder to Australian employers to take bullying more seriously.
“The owner of the cafe and the three co-workers who were found liable for the daily harassment and humiliation that contributed to Brodie’s suicide were fined a total of $335,000,” she said.
A Productivity Commission report released this year found the effects of workplace stress, including bullying, cost employers $10 billion a year through absenteeism and diminished performance.