Employers who are accused of bullying sometimes feel personally affronted and often are upset. Almost without exception people agree that bullying is unacceptable but they find it difficult to draw the line between justifiable criticism bluntly made and bullying.
A dominant and blunt management style, negative tone of voice and frequent derogatory comments about an employee’s work probably won’t amount to bullying but it is still not the best way of managing people. However, if you repeatedly humiliate the employee in front of work colleagues then you are likely to face a complaint of bullying.
Roberts v Japan Auto (NZ) Limited is a good example of an employer crossing the line between justifiable criticism and bullying. In this case the employee’s manager made cruel, insulting and public comments about the employee’s psychological problems. He also implied in numerous ways that the employee was not wanted in the workplace, such as by removing his name from the staff board. The manager also told the employee that he would not approve his sales.
Faced with an accusation of bullying you need to avoid doing anything that would reinforce the accusation. You should treat the complaint as you would a complaint of harassment.
How we can help
We will assist you in managing the complaint by:
- Advising you about the law and processes involved in managing the complaint and in handling any personal grievance;
- Discussing any assistance you may need to provide the complainant;
- Assisting you with any investigation;
- Advising you on the decision to be made;
- Representing you throughout the processes.
If you would like our help, this is the information we will need
- A dateline of events.
- A description of the issues for you.
- The complainant’s statement and any witness statements the complainant has provided.
- The employment agreement;
- Your harassment policies and procedures you have in place.
- The employee’s personal file.
- Wage, time and leave records.
- Your contact details.