Workplace bullying and harassment

Workplace bullying is when a person or a group of people repeatedly behave unreasonably towards a worker in a way that creates a risk to health and safety.

What is workplace bullying?
Bullying includes:

  • spreading hurtful rumours;
  • having unreasonable work expectations, including giving someone too much or too little work;
    actual or threatened physical attacks;
    displaying offensive material; and
    aggressive, humiliating or intimidating behaviour.
    Reasonable management action done in a reasonable way is not bullying.
    Workers include employees, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, apprentices, trainees, students gaining work experience and volunteers. It does not include members of the Defence Force.

What should I do if I am being bullied at work?

You should write down what you remember about the bullying incident/s, including when it happened and who was involved. Record the names of any other people who may have witnessed the incident. You can try to resolve the issue by talking to your employer and the person or people who are bullying you.
If this is unsuccessful or not appropriate, you can apply to the Fair Work Commission who can investigate your complaint.
If the Fair Work Commission finds that you have been bullied and there is a risk you will continue to be bullied, it can make any order (except for orders about compensation, fines or penalties) necessary to prevent you from being bullied at work in the future.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. It is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that, in the circumstances, a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating or intimidating. Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace.
Sexual harassment includes:
• making sexual jokes;
• suggestive behaviour;
• asking intrusive questions about someone’s private life or body;
• sending sexually explicit emails or text messages;
• making inappropriate advances on social networking sites; and
• displaying posters, magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature.

What should I do if I am being sexually harassed at work?

You should write down what you remember about the sexual harassment, including when it happened and who was involved, and the name of anyone who may have witnessed the incident/s. To stop the sexual harassment, you can:
• Make a written complaint to your employer, setting out what happened and what action you would like your employer to take. Complain to the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission within 12 months of the discrimination taking place. Both Commissions can choose to extend these timeframes.
• Make an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) using Form F72 provided on the FWC’s website.

Useful contacts
Australian Human Rights Commission
Phone: (02) 9284 9600

Darwin Community Legal Service
Freecall: 1800 812 953
Phone: (08) 8982 1111

Fair Work Ombudsman
Phone: 13 13 94

Fair Work Commission
Phone: 1300 799 675

Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission
Freecall: 1800 813 846

Union Helpline
Phone: 1300 486 466


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© Darwin Community Legal Service 2022: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained, and proper credit is given to DCLS as the publisher.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as of January 2022.

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