Hello, I’m John Melis, a solicitor in Australia, and I’ll be helping you with your question today.
The detail you provided shows there is workplace bullying.
Bullying may involve a wide range of behaviour; for example, it includes harassment, victimisation, discrimination, abusive, insulting, offensive language or comments, and spreading misinformation or malicious rumours.
In your case, you fit into the category of bullying conduct in the broader sense. That means you will be able to raise a claim for compensation and workplace protection.
I invite you to make an application to stop bullying under the Fair Work Act with the Fair Work Commission.
You may use the general protection provisions form on the Fair Work Commission website. You may apply today.
Fair work will contact you to discuss your matter.
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To add to my initial question, more recently I was approached by a colleague (colleague 1) in the kitchen at work and there was small talk and this was whilst I was waiting to speak with an old manager of mine who was standing nearby. What I did not realise initially was that the person who has been mistreating me (colleague 2) was standing behind me. I realised that colleague 2 was there when colleague one softly spoke to them from across the bench and they responded with something. I did not hear this as I have a hearing impairment and I was standing side on (with my back turned to colleague 2). It was then that colleague one commented "see you are not the issue, she's the issue" and gestured that I was the issue when they said 'she's the issue'.
I then acknowledged colleague one and walked away from the situation as I did not want to inflate it anymore.
Colleague one and colleague 2 are also friends, whereas colleague 2 is an old team leader of mine, who I feel purposedly has taken steps to put me down, embarrass me and belittle me whilst I was in the same team, and since I've been in my current team for the past 3 years.The situation above I believe comes stems from the idea that both colleague 2 and I have not spoken for some time as I have not felt comfortable around them due to several things that they have done that have made me feel anxious, belittled and betrayed.One of the incidents was 3.5 years ago where I left my previous team in the organisation as it was not a great environment. I had left the team having made a formal complaint against the manager. The formal complaint was poorly handled, there was no investigation done internally and many individuals (around the world and within this office) within the organisation were told that I had made the formal complaint, which I felt was an attempt to belittle me and make me feel bad.On the last week of working in that team, the hand-over process was done. On a project that I was working on, we required some internal information to be completed so that the internal teams knew the setup process for a new functionality that was being completed. One of the team members asked if we needed the internal comms.
Colleague 2 (my team leader at the time) confirmed that they would ask our product team and get back to us tomorrow.
The next day, Colleague 2 confirmed that we were not required to do the internal comms, which I disagreed with as previously with the type of software release that was being done, we required it.
I then asked the question in my one-on-one, it doesn't seem correct that we do not require the information as in previous releases like this, we have required it. Is it a misunderstanding that we require this information and do you want to check again?
Colleague 2 required "Are you questioning me?" I confirmed that I was not and I'm ensuring that we do not require this information as the internal comms have previously been required with these releases.
Colleague 2 replied "Well like I said, they are not required, so you don't need to question it.The following 1.5 weeks later I was in my new team and both my new manager and product approached me and asked me why the internal communications had not been done?
I confirmed that they had not been done because I was told by Colleague 2 that it was not required.
My manager and the member from the product team confirmed that colleague 2 had said that I hadn't done the work. I then confirmed with my manager and product the conversation that had transpired.
My manager and product confirmed that they believed me and to leave it with them.A few months ago, I was also having a conversation with colleagues which happened to be close to the area where colleague 2 sat. We were having a private conversation about our weekend.
I overheard colleague 2 confirm "I don't like kiwi's or that accent".
One of colleague 2's team members then answered "Hey I'm a kiwi".
Colleague 2 confirmed, "Well you're lucky that I like you".I advised my current manager of this outburst that was unacceptable and racist towards not just my culture (new zealand) but any culture. My manager spoke with HR and to my knowledge nothing was really done about it and I was never spoken to. I feel that this comment was aimed toward me as I believe colleague 2 has had it in for me from the moment that they started at the company.
The reason for this is because I overheard a conversation between my previous manager and colleague 2 that my manager had previously asked if I might be interested in a team leader role, which I confirmed that I was not. My manager had told colleague 2 in this conversation that I was interested in the role and that colleague 2 needed to do whatever they needed to do to show superiority and that the competition won't be hard.There have been several comments like this in the past 4 years and nothing has been done about any incident. Now I'm being told by HR that "I am the issue".
Thank you for the detail information.You are entitled sue for compensation through Fair Work.
Hi John, thanks for your message.
Can I ask for your opinion on what I should do whilst still working there?
I.e continue with my day-to-day and consult Fair Work at the same time.
Or should I bring it to my works attention that I am going to Fair Work?
I suggest that you file your application with the fair work commission, under the general protection provisions form, as this will provide you protection in the workplace. Once you have lodged your application with the fair work commission you should inform the employer immediately.
I'm looking for resolution to this, whether that be I present my findings to them and try to sort this out internally first or I go to Fair Work without the organisations knowledge.Also, is there any way that they can fire me over this?
I suggest that you go to the fair work commission first. That way you can be protected in the workplace.I know you put so much time and effort into this, and if you follow the steps as suggested above, it will give you a direction to go.If there is anything else, please let me know.
What happens if they retaliate over this and also, is there any way that they can fire me over this?
If you have filed your application with the fair work commission, the employer will not retaliate. You will be protected.
Okay thanks very much for your advise John, I really appreciate it.Can I ask for your thoughts on the large comment that I mentioned above, regarding what has transpired?
What areas of 'bullying' does this meet?
Based on the information you have provided there are aspects of bullying.If you prefer to talk on the telephone, I have sent you a special offer to assist you in more detail, as it will make it easier to discuss your matter. I kindly request that you complete the information on the offer, and we can talk straight away as you need. Otherwise, we can keep chatting in this box.
Hi John, I hope you don't mind, would you mind letting me know your perspective in this chat?
Bullying is a very broad topic and has a lot of intricate specifics in it. Based on the information you provided you have some points of bullying.I do suggest that you look at the fair work commission website as they have excellent resources to help define the bullying conduct.
Thank you. Yes, I have looked at the fair work commission website and I can see that aspects of what has transpired are bullying issues and some are not.
You were on the right path. Now file the application with the fair work commission.
I was also asked recently by HR if I wanted Colleague 2 to be fired.
I did not answer initially as I was in disbelief by the question that they had asked.They then proceeded to tell me a story about an employee in our UK office who was having problems with another employee and when HR asked this person whether they wanted the person who was mistreating them to be fired, the employee confirmed that they wanted them to be fired. The HR person then told me that the employee who said this was then fired.The question was then asked of me 'do you want colleague 2 to be fired'.
I confirmed that I did not want them to be fired and that I'm asking for an investigation to be had and also for this person to be made accountable for their actions.I felt that I was being led, having been asked this question.A similar thing occurred with our previous HR person who is friends with the current one.
I was having meetings with them for the purpose of professional development.
I was initially asked by them "Why do you not get along with colleague 2". I confirmed from my point of view why.Over a series of 4 meeting with them, they talked with me about aspects of the business to help me to understand the commercial side of the business, which is what I required due to where I want to go next.
There were some leading questions about what I thought about departments and how I think they are going and what could be done better. I thought at the time that they were trying to help me and understand how I think.
Then in the 4th meeting, colleague 2 stand-ups outside of the door that has glass windows and is peering in to the office. The HR officer then waves and makes a comment about them standing up and being nosey.
I then responded 'how convenient' as I knew something was wrong with the situation. I then continued on to confirm that in every meeting colleague 2 had been sitting with their team and peering through their teams monitors to look into this office.
The HR person then confirmed that they had asked colleague 2 to stand up and look in at the time and they confirmed that I had been talking about them in every meeting. They then said to me "You know what I think? I think that you are the issue".I confirmed that I had not first brought colleague 2 up in every meeting, I was answering your initial question of Why do you not get along with colleague 2 and then in each meeting you asked me for my viewpoints on some of the teams, which I thought I was answering so that you could gauge how I think and see how you can help me.I then confirmed that I came to speak with them in hope to ask for their help to remedy the situation by investigating and even setting up a meeting with colleague 2 and HR to remedy it.
HR confirmed that neither they or another HR assistant could help me and that I'm on my own.We now have a new HR person (who I mentioned in the first aspect of this conversation).
I feel that I have been set up and mislead and cannot trust anyone there, besides my manager.
What are your thoughts on this?
I believe that they do not care about the situation and it is more simpler to blame the person being bullied.
My thoughts are is that you need to file an application with the fair work commission.
I understand, is this fair to say that this is another bullying incident or incidents?
Based on your information you are being bullied.If you're needing a detailed discussion on bullying, I suggest that you reach out to your local lawyer or you can select telephone services.
If I confirm a call, what duration is the call for, for $51?
We can talk on the phone when you are ready.
Great and how long can I have on the call, for the price of $51?
We can talk about your issue on the phone.
Sure, can I have 30 minutes or 60 minutes for the price of $51?
The call is based on your question length.
Okay thanks, I'll leave it here.
Thank you for your help.
It was my pleasure to help you today, and I thank you for chatting with me.